Author Interview Q&A

Questions About the Writing Process

Are you a full time writer?
I own my own business, KaleidoSoul, that offers online and in-person learning about the process of SoulCollage® (an intuitive process for personal growth and creativity) created by Seena Frost). I love my work at KaleidoSoul because it is making a difference in peoples’ lives all around the world. So I’m not a full time writer. I do set aside an hour (sometimes more) 3-5 times a week to work/play on whatever current story I’m working on. I have discovered that a LOT can be accomplished this way!

When did you first decide to become an author? Well, I wouldn’t say it was exactly a decision! Writing is just something that I’ve always loved to do!  Since the time I could hold a pencil, one of my greatest passions has been Writing (note the capital W). My childhood found me scribbling pages and pages of stories and novels on lined notebook paper that I kept piling into bulky three-ring binders.

In sixth grade, our English teacher asked us to write a short story, and I produced a 40-page handwritten novel about a beautiful fantasy world where cats could talk! He was so impressed that he sent it off to a publisher, and even though we never heard any more from that publisher, I tucked that whole experience away in my heart like a tender secret- I had written a book, a whole book, and my teacher had thought it worthy of publishing! That is when I first felt a longing to be a “real” Writer, and when it first became an actual possibility.

I want to be an author. Can you give me some writing advice?
My best advice is to get out pen and paper, or sit yourself down at your computer.. and BEGIN. Just write whatever pops into your mind. Get it all down. There will be time later for revising and editing. There are plenty of places online that can provide you with writing prompts, should you need them.


Questions About Dragonflies at Night

If you could sum the book up in one sentence, what would you say?
I can’t do it in one, but here are three short sentences instead! Dragonflies at Night is a gentle, contemporary love story. Woven through it is the belief that those who love us and leave this world are never really gone. It is full of celebrities, celebrations, and one very important cemetery.

Is Dragonflies at Night your first book?
Actually, no. About 30 years ago I co-published a middle grade novel, “My Other Dad.” The co-publishing was with Winston-Derek which no longer exists, however you can still find some used copies here.

Also, I’ve published three books about the intuitive process of SoulCollage, two books about my cancer journeys, a young adult novel, and a 50-page novella. You can read more about my other books here.

What is Dragonflies at Night about?
Dragonflies at Night is about two thirty-somethings: Savannah plans life celebrations; Ben is an international celebrity. On one level, it’s a tender, bright romance; but—like the subtitle says, this is not your average love story. Woven through the story of Savannah and Ben’s relationship is the powerful message of love on many different levels, particularly the love that Savannah’s mother still holds for her even though she died when Savannah was fifteen.

What inspired you to write Dragonflies at Night?
To be honest, this novel began as a simple romance. I wasn’t even intending to write “a novel.” I was just playing around with words and characters as they came to me. I’ve always felt my work as an author is to follow my imagination and the characters where they take me, so that’s what I did.

Also, I will admit that I’ve always been fascinated with how celebrities handle their public lives. Years ago, I was waiting for someone at the airport, and Michael J. Fox just happened to be coming down the corridor in the opposite direction, surrounded by a few bodyguards and his entourage. This was my first “celebrity sighting,” so to speak, and while I was thrilled to see him only a few feet away from me, I couldn’t quite grasp why there were so many people crowding him, calling out his name, and trying to touch him. I do explore this a bit in Dragonflies at Night, and I even did some research on the psychology behind celebrity obsession.

Are you going to write a sequel to Dragonflies at Night?
I’ve been hearing some interest in a sequel featuring the relationship that is blooming between Andi and Brando, but it’s not currently on my list of upcoming writing projects. If you get on my author’s email list soon, I’ll be sending out a few deleted chapters that focus on Andi and Brando.

Where did you get the idea for Dragonflies at Night?
I have to say that I’ve harbored a little crush on Josh Groban for many years now! As I’ve followed him on Twitter and attended some of his concerts, I found myself wondering how difficult it might be for a celebrity to find someone who loves them for who they are and not for what they can do for them. Part of me wanted to find someone like that for Josh, and the more I pondered this, the more the characters of Ben and Savannah made themselves known to me.

Are your characters based on real people?
Ben Shepherd (Dragonflies at Night) was inspired by Josh Groban, but is not based on him. Ben is his own person, as you will see when you read the book.

What challenged you about writing this story?
The scenes that were the most challenging were the ones with Savannah’s Auntie Zan who, when the story opens, is semi-conscious in a nursing home, having suffered a series of strokes. My mom had a stroke when she was 81, so I was remembering the three days that my brothers and I attended to her at her bedside before she quietly left us. It was a difficult time, and I always wondered how much she understood of what we said to her, and how much she was able to hear of her favorite music that we played for her.


Which character do you most relate to and why?
Even though I didn’t lose my parents until my adult years, I relate the most to Savannah because I totally understand her fear of receiving a cancer diagnosis. I went through surgeries and treatments for breast cancer in 2002 and again in 2011, so I can tell you that her fear is very real.

Savannah is also an introvert who loves solitude, the theatre, and her two cats (among other things!). Needless to say, those are also parts of me! Also, I just love her attitude about celebrating life, and all of her party ideas for her Life Celebrations business. She is creative, and I can definitely identify with that part of her as well.  It’s funny… at one point, Ben points out to her that she is an introvert who loves giving parties. And that he is an extrovert who is a terrible host. Just one more way that these two are a perfect match!

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character?  Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of? 
Ben Shepherd, the romantic lead, is an internationally-known actor, musician, and songwriter.  The most distinctive thing about him when the story begins is that he is lonely, in spite of people always crowding around him when he is out in public or doing a concert. As his character and music became clearer to me, I found him to be a remarkable mix of the looks, creativity, and personalities of Josh Groban and Jason Mraz!

Are the locations in Dragonflies at Night real places?
Yes, all of the locations are really real! Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health is a lovely retreat center in Lenox, Massachusetts and I have been there many, many times at a retreater and also as a teacher. Savannah lives in Salem (Massachusetts) and she is from Portland (Maine). Ben lives in Los Angeles and New York City. Ben’s friends have a home in Palos Verdes, California. And I have been to all of these places at one time or another.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book? 
On one level, someone would want to read this book because it is full of refreshing, lovely, creative escapism and because happy endings are always really satisfying! On a deeper level, it warrants reading because there is a message here about how love is stronger, much stronger, than death. This quote by St. John of Chrysostom was propped on my desk as I wrote each chapter: Those whom we love and lose are no longer where they were before.  They are now wherever we are.

Anyone who has ever “lost” someone to death will hopefully receive comfort and peace as they read the story of how Savannah’s mother (and eventually her Auntie Zan) still play an important part in her life.

What do you hope readers will take with them after they’ve read it?
I really hope that readers will be touched by the fact that there is a greater Love at work in our earthly romances, and that relationships aren’t separated by death, as proven in my novel by the relationship between Savannah and Deirdre Rose.

There’s a lovely quote from St. John of Chrysostom: Those whom we love and lose are no longer where they were before. They are now wherever we are.  I will feel satisfied if even one reader is comforted by this after reading this novel.


Personal Questions

You look so happy in this photo…where are you?
I am in Ogunquit, which is a beautiful town in southern Maine. The word “Ogunquit” is a Native American word for “beautiful place  by the sea.”  A perfect description for my Happy Place, Ogunquit, Maine!

Is this the first book you’ve written?
I have written two books about my cancer journeys, three books about the intuitive process of SoulCollage®, one Young Adult novel (Come As You Are), and one 50-page women’s fiction novella (All You Need is Love…and Lilacs) .

What do you do when you’re not writing?
I own my own business, KaleidoSoul, that offers online and in-person learning about the process of SoulCollage® (an intuitive process for personal growth and creativity) created by Seena Frost). I love my work at KaleidoSoul because it is making a difference in so many peoples’ lives all around the world. At this time, I’m not a fulltime writer. I do set aside an hour (sometimes more) 3-5 times a week to work/play on whatever current story I’m working on. I have discovered that a lot can be accomplished this way!

What is something about you that is unique or we may not know?
The main characters of Dragonflies at Night, Ben and Savannah, fall fast and hard for each other. While some people think that falling love at first sight (or almost first sight) isn’t a “thing,” I experienced it firsthand in 1991 when I met a handsome guy named Jeff on a blind date. We didn’t say “I love you” for a few weeks, but both of us said later that we felt an instant familiarity and sense of “home” with each other on that first meeting. It was four years until we married, but this relationship that began almost thirty years ago is still thriving and going strong, through rough seas as well as smooth. I wish the same for Ben and Savannah, as well as each of you who are reading this right now.

Who are your favorite authors?
I absolutely adore Elizabeth Berg and Catherine Ryan Hyde. They also write books that “stir the soul.”
Other novelists I enjoy who also write fiction that is woven with meaning (in no particular order): Katrina Kittle, Sandra Hutchison, Anna Bozena Bowen, Ann Crawford, Donna VanLiere, Katherine Center, Debbie Macomber, Elizabeth Church, Roland Merullo, Kris Radish, Karen White, Lisa Wingate, Anna Quindlen, Elizabeth Cunningham… to name just a few!
As for nonfiction, I am forever in love with Jennifer Louden, Tara Brach, and Jeff Foster.

What is your next novel about?
I’m working on another women’s fiction book called “Angel Feathers” about a mother and pre-teen daughter who relocate to a small seaside town in southern Maine (yes, it is inspired by my times in York and Ogunquit). There are several quirky characters, a special theatre, and all kinds of cool ocean-themed shops and restaurants. And a beautiful place to view sunrises!

It’s the first book in a series and I’m very excited about where it’s headed. In the story, young Eva keeps finding feathers where feathers usually aren’t found and she is convinced that they are angel feathers because. . . well, you’ll see. There is a theatre in this seaside town and I am thinking that perhaps Ben Shepherd could do a concert there at some point!