Although your first published novel, Promise Not to Tell, appeared in 2007, you’d been writing seriously for a long time before that. Can you talk a bit about your history as a writer and what lead up to publishing your first book?
I studied poetry in college and for a year in an MFA program. Then one day, a prose poem took on a life of its own and became the start of my first novel. Once that novel was finished, I sent out a batch of queries and was overjoyed when one of my top agent choices expressed an interest and soon offered to represent me. I was so overjoyed, enthusiastic (not to mention just blissfully clueless!) that I quit my day job to devote myself to writing full time. I was sure that the book would sell and my career would be on its way. The book did not sell. Months went by, then a year. I finished my second novel and sent if off to my agent, who pronounced it “a bit dark” but diligently went to work pitching it to editors. In the meantime, I wrote book #3, a long, rambling mess that I stuck in a drawer, too ashamed to show anyone. By this time, nearly another year had gone by and my agent hadn’t had any success selling either book.
I sat down to write book #4, determined that this would be “The One.” It had to be. So I asked myself, “What sort of book would I most want to read?” And the answer that came back, loud and clear, was a ghost story. So I wrote my ghost story and when I was done, I was sure that this was going to be the one that did it. I knew it was good and had the potential to be a success. So I sent if off to my agent. I didn’t hear from her for weeks. When I did, it was a letter saying the book just didn’t do it for her and much as she respected my work, blah, blah, blah, it was time we parted company. I was devastated. I drank a lot of tequila. I thought about quitting. But I knew I couldn’t quit. Writing is too much a part of who I am. Continue reading