What is your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from many places. I love history and historical fiction, and Hexborn was partly inspired by the Tudor dynasty in England. The imaginary religion in Hexborn is colored by my Catholic upbringing and my husband's Hindu heritage. The action scenes in all my books draw from my love for superhero movies.
What informs your perspective?
I'm a former inner-city chemistry teacher, a singer, a 9Round enthusiast, a liberal Presbyterian who grew up Roman Catholic, and a mother through domestic open adoption. I am a Lupus patient, and I am the only white person living in my house. All of these things inform my work.
For example, I like to create diverse casts of characters. I think it's important that people who look like my son and my students see people like them in popular culture. A lot of the imagery in She Dies at the End is influenced by my Catholic upbringing. Hexborn draws from my experience as a young person with a serious illness.
For me, a book really is all about the characters. I adore creating them and waching them grow and interact.
Shiloh, the protagonist of Hexborn, copes with a serious illness and rejection by her peers. She is strong and resolute, raised to believe in her own gifts and in her duty to her country. She is fiercely loyal and always pragmatic.
November, the main character in my paranormal series, started with the idea of a carnival fortune teller who is legitimately psychic and who knows that she will die young. Everything else grew from there. I wanted to create a girl who is attracted to a vampire but is smart enough to see the real danger. I also wanted to create someone strong enough to not accept controlling mistreatment, sort of the opposite of a certain other vampire novel protagonist.
I also love writing dialogue. I get a kick out of coming up with a clever turn of phrase.
Magic and creatures are fun! It's enjoyable to imagine powerful beings with rules of their own, either in another world or secretly walking among us. I enjoy escapism, but I do want it to respect my intelligence. In She Dies at the End, I wanted to do vampires cleverly, and in a modern, more realistic way, a way that communicates my own ethics and aesthetic. In Hexborn, I created a world where familiar political machinations mix with sorcery, allowing me to address social issues while still entertaining the reader.