Where are you from?
I was born in Denver, Colorado, USA. I was raised in Golden, and now I currently live up north in Windsor. I love it here in Colorado, though I'm not too fond of the winter.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I remember working on writing assignments way back in fourth grade. I wrote a piece about my home, and I was quite happy with what I wrote. I also wrote a poem about my best friend, who had just moved away. These were the moments that I learned that I enjoyed writing. In sixth grade my parents sent me to a private school where the teachers were able to give students more one-on-one attention. It was in the care of those teachers where I was able to cultivate my abilities, and I eagerly looked forward to any writing assignments, especially fictional ones. It was about seventh grade that I realized I wanted to actually write books.
Where do you get your ideas?
The short answer: all over the place. The long answer: I pick up ideas from books I read, TV I watch, conversations I have with people. I get ideas from observations I see on the street, dreams I have at night, and from adventures to the zoo, the museum, foreign countries, or the local coffee shop. I'm also a bit addicted to Pinterest because there are literally millions of pictures that you can use for writing prompts. Sometimes I'll be lying in bed or taking a shower and a new idea will hit me like a sucker punch. There is no one source of inspiration. It's different for everyone and it's different for me day-to-day.
Do you have any advice for new writers?
Well, I'm still a bit new myself so I wouldn't dare call myself a master. But, I can tell you this: read a lot of different books, short stories, poems etc. in the genre(s) you are interested in. Read the good ones. Read the bad ones. Read the latest publications and dig up old vintage stuff. Read what you like, no matter what people tell you about it not being your age group or whatever. It's your journey, not theirs. Read every day, and write every day too. Writing is like any art or sport; you won't get good at it unless you learn what others have done and then practice yourself! Above all, do not be discouraged. Everyone has moments where they've written bad content (especially me), and almost everyone has to wade through a minefield of rejections before you finally land a publication somewhere.
You wrote a middle grade fantasy book. When will it be available?
That depends entirely on when I can find an agent, and then how quickly that agent can strike a deal with a publisher. If you have any agent recommendations, please let me know!
What kinds of books do you like to read? What kinds of things you like to write?
Ninety nine out of a hundred times, I'm reading something in the speculative fiction realm. That means fantasy, science fiction, slipstream, or anything else in between. I do also enjoy reading historical fiction, and occasionally I make myself read "realistic" fiction of the thriller or comedy veins. Consequently, I usually write in these genres because they're the most interesting to me. Sometimes I write a fun story just for...well...fun...but I do try to use my writing to explore issues that need to be explored (like the environment, etc.). I also adore the simplicity and beauty of haiku, and I enjoy the challenge of writing as much as I can with as few syllables as possible. Increasingly, I'm branching into the world of nonfiction so I can try to help give a voice to nature and those in need.
What is your favorite book?
This is a toughie. I have a lot of favorites! The Dinotopia series by James Gurney, and later the Dinotopia novels written by other authors, immediately come to mind because they were my first literary loves, and I still enjoy them to this day. Others I absolutely adore are The Life of Pi by Yann Martel, The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke, and the Destroyerman series by Taylor Anderson. And, my buddy and fellow writer Matt Donald wrote an AWESOME YA series called Megazoic, which explores an advanced civilization of dinosaurs! (You can read all about it at his website!) There are, of course, many others...
What is your favorite movie? TV show?
Again, this is a toughie, but my all-time favorite movie is probably Jurassic Park. As for TV, I grew up with the various Star Trek series and I still love them, and learn from them too. Like books, I usually gravitate toward fantasy and science fiction movies and shows. I'm also a sucker for "bad" monster films like Troll 2 or Poseidon Rex.
What else do you do besides write?
I've always been passionate about education. I love working with kids because I know what it's like to be a struggling student. So many kids out there need help, and I love being on the front lines helping students overcome difficulties or become passionate about nature and science. I have a Masters degree in Educational Psychology, and I've worked in a variety of educational settings from classic classrooms to childcare to giving tours at Dinosaur Ridge (THAT was a fun gig!). Currently I'm working as a high school paraprofessional. Eventually I'd like to pursue a doctorate in curriculum development.
That's swell, but what do you like to do?
Oh you mean for fun? Well, aside from reading and writing, I love to travel. I've been blessed with the chance to visit many of the states in the US and I've visited four different countries (five if you count the Vatican!). I just love exploring new places and learning about different cultures. Another one of my hobbies, which goes hand-in-hand with traveling, is scuba diving. I'm deeply passionate about the natural world, and scuba diving is the best way to experience the ocean and all the creatures that live in it. Camping and hiking are also great ways to get in touch with nature. I'm also a dinosaur fanatic and I collect fossils when I get the chance. I'm a chocolate and a tea connoisseur, and I'm fascinated with religion and spirituality of all stripes.
What else should we know?
I'm a Sagittarius, I'm addicted to 80s pop and rock, and easily distracted by shiny objects.