Current Release: Snowbound with a Stranger

Describe your current release in two sentences?

In Snowbound with a Stranger, a burnt-out nurse named Dannie Marino finds herself trapped in a mountain cabin in a blizzard with a dangerously attractive social worker named Lee. Stranded together, the two compulsive caretakers battle desperate cold, a wild bear, and their own buried grief to discover a passion that challenges everything they think they understand about themselves.

Please describe your writing environment.

I write in bed, under the blankets, with three pillows propped behind my back and a cup of coffee on the windowsill beside me. I could work at a desk, at the kitchen table, or at any number of neighborhood cafes, but for me, writing is all about feeling good, and I feel good in bed. I wrote Snowbound with a Stranger in my pajamas. It was wonderful.

What are you working on?

The third book of my Recovery series from Carina Press—Fault Lines—comes out in September, and that concludes a very emotional trilogy of stories about women recovering from various kinds of trauma. I’m incredibly proud of these three books, and also excited to be moving forward into new, uncharted territory. I’m currently working on a contemporary romance that takes place in Cape Cod.

If you had to choose one person to have dinner with, who would it be? And why?

If I had the power, I definitely would have dinner with my grandmother, who died in 2004. We spent a lot of time together, and I hope I made sure she knew how much I loved her. Still, I wish I had one more evening just to tell her how often I think about her and how much she meant to me, and to thank her for being the person that she was. Aside from Grandma, I feel pretty fortunate in that I get to have dinner every night with the people I most want to have dinner with: my husband and children. They are such interesting, smart, funny people, and I am so lucky to be with them.

What is your favorite TV show?

My favorite current TV show is Southland. It is such a visceral show—beautifully written, acted and directed. It’s very haunting and real. I also love old reruns of Roseanne. That show had a big impact on me. And of course Firefly and Six Feet Under. All of these shows share the quality that I find most compelling in TV, movies and books: strong, believable, deeply drawn characters. I care about these people as much as I would if I knew them personally. That is so powerful.

What career fields have you worked in?

I’m a teacher. I taught public school in Brooklyn for several years. Since my kids were born, in order to spend as much time with them as possible, I’ve taught privately and freelanced as a curriculum writer. Before teaching I worked for community-based nonprofits. I also once worked in a rat lab, cleaning the cages of obese rats that were being studied for diabetes research. That was a very fragrant experience.

What are your plans for the summer? Any books you are looking forward to?

To me, it’s not summer unless there’s lots of swimming involved, so we definitely will spend time by the ocean and in any lake, pond, river or pool we can get our hands on. I’m looking forward to the next book in Lisa Kleypas’s Friday Harbor series, and to the new series by Grace Burrowes. Those two authors inspire me. I will read anything they write.

How was your road to publication? Have you every had to deal with rejection letters?

I sold my first manuscript to Carina Press after a year of shopping it around. It was a long year! And yes, I got a lot of rejection letters. They were pretty devastating at the time, but they were also instructive. When people took the time to explain why they were saying no—which I really appreciated—I often learned something useful about the industry, and sometimes I found that the basis for the rejection was something integral to my writing that I actually was not willing to change. I had a strong point of view about the content and length of my first three books, for example, but even though it was problematic from a marketing perspective, I didn’t want to conform to the status quo. Fortunately, Carina Press was open to my approach. But the criticism that preceded that first sale helped me define who I am and what I’m doing as a writer, and helped me to accept that not everyone will like or agree with what I do. But that’s okay. What matters most is that I feel like I’ve stayed true to my own voice.

What is the one thing you do not want to live without?

I wouldn’t want to live without music. It’s been a lifeline since I was tiny, listening to old Joan Baez records on the turntable, or later, lying on the floor of my bedroom with Tool blasting in my headphones, or running through Brooklyn listening to Eminem or Neko Case. I take in music the way a starving person eats; I’m just ravenous for it. I cry and laugh and sing along, and it makes me feel this incredible joy at being alive. I have so much respect for people who create music. It’s such a gift.

What is the best thing about being an author?

For me, being an author is a kind of pretend world where I can act as fierce and strong-willed as I always wanted to be but never gave myself permission to be. In my regular life, I’ve been very accommodating and kind, and that has been lovely, but I made a vow to myself when I started writing that this would be a place where I would not compromise or go along. I would say what I mean and mean what I say. So in my novels and in my various blogging endeavors I feel like I’m speaking with my real voice, and that feels powerful to me, and liberating.

If you could live in a world created by an author, which book / world would you jump into?

No question—I’d live in the shire from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I already eat breakfast twice a day, and I’m short, so I’d fit right in among the hobbits. I’m small but mighty! And I could hang out with Samwise Gamgee, and what could be better than that? He is the ultimate friend.

Thank you so much to Night Owl Reviews for hosting me today. And thank you for reading! My current release—Snowbound with a Stranger—is available from Carina Press.