I caught the writing bug at age ten, when my illustrated comic love story about a turtle, “Slowpoke Joe,” won rave reviews from several key family members.
Writing for my day job stifled the creative urge for years, until my longtime friend, Yvonne Collins, suggested we collaborate on a non-fiction book for teens. Then we tried fiction, and discovered that making things up was even more fun. We wrote eight novels together—mostly romantic comedies (formerly known as chick lit).
It seems that no matter how hard I try to be serious, the humor creeps in. I can’t help myself.
Well, I can, but it’s tough. Now that I’m doing more collaborating and ghostwriting, I’ve had to accept that love and comedy don’t belong in every single book.
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Q. What are you working on now?
A. I have a bunch of ideas I’m developing, and for some reason they all seem to feature dogs. I’ll settle on one shortly and get writing.
I’d also consider more ghostwriting gigs, especially if they involve dogs. Or horses. Or pretty much any other animal. Did I mention that James Herriot was my childhood idol?
Q. Why do you co-author so many books? Don’t you like writing alone?
A. Writing is a solitary business, even if you’re collaborating. But I do like working as part of a team. It gives me a very specific audience of one. I especially enjoyed trying to make Yvonne laugh. She’d actually rate my stuff with “Ha” in the margins. If I achieved a “five-Ha” rating, I knew I was onto a good thing.
Ghostwriting is also fun, but for different reasons. I’m a pretty boring person overall, and I love finding out how more
But I do like writing on my own, because I have full control of the content and the schedule. Sometimes I even give myself a “ha,” maybe two, in the margins. More would be self-indulgent.
Q. When did you know you wanted to write romance books?
A. I didn’t. I still think don’t think of my books as romances, although there’s a lot of romance in them.
But looking back, I can see the writing was on the wall. From an early age, I was marrying off my stuffed animals and creating love triangles between Barbie and my two Ken dolls. (Tall, dark and handsome Ken beat out Malibu Ken every time.)
Then along came Romeo and Juliet—the gerbils. This happy couple produced 36 babies before my parents insisted I separate them. I felt their anguish so keenly that I kept sneaking them back together, and inevitably, another litter would result. When my dad started giving away gerbil babies to strangers in his grocery store, I had to make the split permanent. Juliet died soon afterwards, no doubt of loneliness and grief. My parents showed no remorse whatsoever.
Q. Which one of your books is your favorite?
A. I don’t think I’m supposed to admit to favoring any of my book-kids, but I loved writing The Black Sheep and Vivien Leigh Reid: Grounded, the third book in the Vivien Leigh Reid series. I think Yvonne was at her funniest, which made me work harder. I still flip the pages and laugh.
Q. Are you and Yvonne going to write sequels to The Black Sheep or Girl v. Boy?
A. No plans in the works, although we love those characters. Personally, I think Judy, the villain of The Black Sheep, should get her own book. But I’m afraid of what she might do with all that power.
Q. I don’t have an e-reader. How can I read your e-books?
A. You can read digital books on most tablets or phones, or on your computer. Just download the application you need for your device. For example, I like to read ebooks on my iPad. Sometimes I buy books from iTunes, but I also downloaded Amazon’s free Kindle reading app to my laptop and have the books I buy sent directly to my iPad or my phone. It’s surprisingly easy—and believe me, I am no techie.
Q. Why are you so interested in dogs, all of a sudden? Weren’t you a cat person?
A. It’s true that I’ve stated publicly that I’m a “cat person.” But a few years ago, I had a… (don’t say it, don’t say it!) midlife crisis. Okay, I said it.
Where some people might have had a torrid affair or cosmetic procedure, I bought a couple of gorgeous Le Creuset pots and a puppy.
Many tried to dissuade me from both the pots and the puppy. In fact, people told me if I got the puppy, I’d have no time for the pots, or money to spend on food worthy of them.
About this they were correct.
Puppies are way more work and expense than I anticipated. Very little got done in the way of cooking or writing until my boy, Riggs, reached the age of reason at about 10 months.
Luckily, both dogs have turned into cat-dogs. If they get a good run, they’re happy to curl up in a patch of sun for the rest of the day.
Q. What are the highs and lows of dog ownership?
A. I love taking Riggs and Mabel on long trail walks where they can run off leash.
Unfortunately, my well-groomed ‘doodles like nothing more than rolling in dead things—the smellier, the better. Imagine being trapped in a car with two dogs covered in rotten, sun-baked salmon.
The dead beaver was also noteworthy. When Riggs came running towards me with that flat tail swinging from his jaws, I thought the Mounties would rise out of the mist on horseback to take us into custody. (We Canadians take our national symbols very seriously.)
Q. How does your cat feel about the dogs?
A. Stella requested a transfer and now lives with her “grandma.”