How did you come up with the idea for Joshua and the Lightning Road?
Very fast! I had attended a writer’s meet up and learned about a class that started the next day to write a children’s book in nine months and said to myself “now wouldn’t that be a challenge?” Storms have always fascinated me and as a child I would sit on the screened-in porch to watch them. I remembered the movie War of the Worlds and how the aliens rode blasts of lightning and thought “wouldn’t it be cool to travel a lightning road to another place?” And Joshua and the Lightning Road was born. Please enjoy the wonderful map of the world where Joshua gets stolen away to, the Lost Realm, by illustrator, Al Sirois.
Are characters in your book based on real people?
They are! Joshua calls his grandfather, Bo Chez, which stands for the Big Cheese–and what my godfather is called by his kids. Bo Chez is like my godfather, big and strong with a booming voice. I also envision Leandro, a mysterious cloaked dude, as my hero in Lord of the Rings, Aragorn. Long before the movie came out, I even dressed up like Aragorn for Halloween of what I thought he would look like. Long hooded cape, boots, long hair. No one knew who I was but me! And then there is Joshua, who is based on my own son, Joshua. You can meet Joshua from the book here in an exclusive interview!
You mention book 2 in the series will be out in in August 2016. Tell us about it.
In the book, Joshua is called to free his friend, who’s been enslaved as a power pawn in a queen’s quest to rule all. But when Joshua becomes bait in her hunting game, loses his powerful lightning orb, and his friends turn on him, he wonders if he can survive on wits and instincts alone and not only save his friend—but himself.
Describe yourself in 20 words or less!
A sentimental, heart wide-open writer, adventurer, ponderer, rebel, loner, wanderer, dreamer, and believer in the impossible.
Why do you like to write?
When I write, I return to the magical worlds of my youth, where monsters and faeries buy valium roam the land. Through my stories I can become these characters, and wield their powers. My mother even made me a prairie dress outfit to pretend I was Laura Ingalls. When we owned a campground we had hogs and chickens that I got to feed just like Laura!
Did you have a job before becoming an author?
Yes–many! I had some fun (and not so fun) jobs including: smoothie bar attendant, newspaper deliverer, door-to-door salesperson, nanny, news reporter, law book assembler, pet store assistant. I was also a U.S. Navy photographer in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii where I worked in a building with no windows for Fleet Intelligence Pacific. I hand-developed aerial film of hidden enemy locations around the world and took command ceremony photos. When they brought in the Top Secret work those of us with only “Secret Clearance” had to hide in the closet so we wouldn’t see it. True!
Did you read much as a kid?
Yes! Some of my favorite books I like to re-read today are The Hobbit, Little House in the Big Woods, The Island of the Blue Dolphins, My Side of The Mountain, and White Fang.
Today some of my new favorite books are Wonder, The Ranger’s Apprentice series, The Sky is Everywhere, The Life of Pi, Lottery, and The Fault in Our Stars. Here’s my son reading my copy of Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl, a favorite author of mine as a kid. The Tooth Fairy brought his books.
What was your favorite thing to do as a kid?
I grew up an only child on a mountain with only nature as a playground, so my special time was spent roaming the woods with my notebook and pen. I wrote in secret fields and beside hidden ponds, and always with my two, frumpy dogs. The woods were my home and I loved to climb trees and sing from them. I’m a country girl at heart. My favorite room with a view is still one strewn with fields, rock walls, and looming mountains.
Here’s a place I used to daydream at in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains where I grew up.
And here is a painting I did on slate of my old homestead.