What have you had to give up to pursue your writing career?
Sleep, maybe? :-) I don’t feel like I had to give up anything to write — if anything, it’s been a gift to experience all the different aspects of writing and publication. I love being an author -- it beats any day job I've ever had, even the ones I've really enjoyed. The freedom to create in whatever way I see fit is both fun and exhilarating, not to mention challenging. I believe that everything I've done or experienced up to this point has helped me tremendously with my writing, so in many ways it was all preparation for where I am today.
What are you working on?
I usually have more than one writing project going on at a time, but right now my focus is on story about a woman who wakes up one morning and finds her husband missing. He was an avid gardener and in the years that follow his disappearance, she becomes a recluse and lets her house and yard fall to disrepair. When she catches a young woman foraging through her vegetable patch she hires her to help bring the garden back to life. They develop an unexpected friendship and in the process discover what really happened to her husband.
What is your ultimate writing goal?
I don't have any hard fast goals. It seems like anytime I make plans about what I want to write or how I want to write, things just fall apart. I'm learning to be loose and easy with things now, because life (and writing) isn't the predictable, at least not for me. The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society is out on January 29, 2013. I originally thought it would be out about six months earlier, but I wasn’t happy with the first draft of the novel and asked my editor at Ballantine for a chance to do a full rewrite. It pushed back the publication date, and I was scrambling and moving family vacations around, but it was worth it. My approach now is to get comfortable with writing and publication being a very organic process.
Do you have any comfort foods?
Frosted sugar cookies. Salt water taffy. Chicken pot pies. Chicken fried steak. Molten chocolate soufflés.
Where is your favorite place to write?
Bed. For a long time it was the only place I could write—the living room and kitchen were too cold at night, and that was the only time I had to work. I like having blankets and pillows around me—it’s very cozy but also not distracting. My husband is used to it, thank goodness.
What are your plans for the next year?
Some family travel, more writing, more relaxing. I really just want to sink into my life and enjoy it more. Living in Hawaii for the past 12 years has helped me realize how good and simple life really is -- when we left the mainland in 2000 we sold everything we had and spent the first ten years trying to make ends meet. It wasn't easy, but that's when I started writing in earnest, and that's also when I sold my first book. When things started to get easier it wasn't because our circumstances had changed (we were struggling to make ends meet), but because we had changed. We shifted our perception of what we needed, of what was enough. And because we changed, eventually everything else did, too. Happiness is a state of mind, and even though I'm pretty happy now, I'll take more.
How was your road to publication?
I started my career as Mia King so I went the traditional cold call query route. It took about six months to find my first agent. She shopped my first manuscript for about a year, and then once we found a publisher (Berkley Books), it was about another year to publication. I wrote two more Mia King titles, all in trade paperback. With the books I wrote as Darien Gee (my real name), I got the fairytale experience. My current agent, Dorian Karchmar at William Morris, went out to auction with Friendship Bread. It found a home with Ballantine Books after several rounds, and sold international, audio, book club and large print as well. They were both very different experiences and I’m grateful to have had them both. To any budding authors out there--don't give up. Before I wrote Friendship Bread people were telling me that I should be grateful for the three titles I'd had published, and to not be disappointed if I didn't have any more. I wasn't satisfied with that, so I kept at it. If I had given up, I would have missed all this.
What career fields have you worked in?
International tax manager, retreat center director, copy chief for high-end beauty retailer, temporary legal secretary, business and marketing consultant, co-owner of a boutique golf academy, stay at home homeschooling mom of three (I still work at this job — my youngest is four -- though the kids are in "real" school this year. New experiences for everyone this year).
If you could time travel, where would you travel to and why?
The future, possibly, but I love where we are in time right now. I enjoy watching life unfold from where we are. I'm not as interested in going back in time, because I happen to like small conveniences like flush toilets and iPhones, and even though I'm curious about the future I have this feeling that there may be some things I don't want to know just yet.