The Opposite of Living is a coming of age novel with a paranormal twist. It is about a young orphan, Carolina Brown, who can’t speak and has no memory of her past. In order to avoid any memories of the life she left behind, Carolina spends most of her time in an elaborate fantasy world. One of her only connections to the “real” world is her love of cooking and her infatuation with famous chef, Gordon Ramsay.
A mysterious couple arrives, claiming to be her Aunt and Uncle and carry, a very reluctant, Carolina off to their Inn in the Country; The Wayfarer’s End. Nothing is at is seems and soon Carolina is led on a series of adventures that help unlock the mystery of her past and allow her to blossom into the strong, smart and kind girl she was meant to be.
Why will readers relate to your characters?
Even though my characters are different, and see the world with very unique perspectives, I think that most people will like and empathize with them. There is a solid core of goodness and humanity in all my characters, even if they don’t always know how to show it. Though Cara is wild, rebellious, and a vicious fighter she is not intentionally mean, she just sees herself as defending her boundaries from people who are trying to hurt her. Telling this story from her perspective was a wonderful experience and I hope my readers love her as much as I did.
How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?
The idea for Carolina’s Inn, The Wayfarer’s End, came first. I loved the concept of a place to shelter people who were different, like artists, musicians and the undead. After that everything fell into place one piece at a time. When I write, I start with one scene or a character that arrives into my head almost fully formed. Then I brainstorm until I have an outline that feels right and then I work on filling in the structure and the details. It’s a very organic process.
How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?
I loved working on this novel and didn’t want it to end at all. I compromised by making it a trilogy so I can prolong my stay a little longer. I ended the first book at a place where Cara was happy and was well on her way to becoming a “normal” person. I thought that was a good place to leave her while I worked on her next adventure.
Has your background influenced your writing?
Absolutely. I had a pretty nomadic childhood in Canada so was exposed to a wide variety of different cultures and ways of living. Sometimes we were well off financially and sometimes not so much so I was able to experience many different walks of life. As an adult I volunteered a women’s emergency shelter, soup kitchens, food banks and a low-income daycare center and I gained a real appreciation of the day to day struggle to survive that some people, especially kids, are faced with.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes, I’ve always been a writer. Even though The Opposite of Living is my first published book I’ve been writing half-finished novels, poems and short stories since I was a little child. They took a back-burner to life for a long time but ideas were always simmering in the background. A couple of years ago I decided that I wasn’t getting any younger and there was no better time than the present to focus more strongly on writing. I couldn’t be happier!
How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?
There are three trilogies, including the one I’m currently working on, plus two stand-alone books lined up and ready for attention. That makes eleven books! I think I need more hours in the day.
What is the easiest part of the writing process?
Getting that initial idea down on paper is always a rush. It’s a heady, exciting time full of potential. I also love finishing the book and the entire editing process. I learn so much from my editors and I love polishing my manuscript until it shines.
Do you have any rituals that you follow before sitting down to write?
First, all the pets have to be fed and walked so that they won’t keep pestering me for attention. Then it’s nice to sit down with some tea and a slice of toast. I like to read a little of what I wrote the day before to get into the right mood before I start writing. I don’t listen to music since I’ll get distracted by the lyrics; instead I just have silence or a quiet tv somewhere in the background. Sometimes it’s fun to visit local café’s to write for a change of scenery.
What are your current writing goals and how do you juggle the promotional aspects with the actual writing?
The sequel to The Opposite of Living is due out this summer and the third in the trilogy will be out next winter. With working full time and balancing family and writing I find that two to three books per year is a good number for me. It allows me to move slowly with the editing process as well; it’s important to me that I produce quality work.
The promotional aspects are a really interesting challenge. I belong to a writer’s group that helps pool marketing ideas but it there is still a very steep learning curve for a newly published author. Luckily, I enjoy learning new things and I think that statistics and algorithms are fascinating, even if I don’t know how to take full advantage of them yet. I am working to build up my social network and try to stay informed about the industry. Right now it’s really just trial and error.
Where can people learn more about your books?
You can purchase The Opposite of Living here on Amazon: