I’ve been telling tales for as long as I can remember. I dropped into the art form in high school with the literary magazine and then in college as well. From there, I worked hard on my craft, writing several novels, learning how to edit those novels, and eventually becoming more skilled as an artist. My first novel, Big Beasts, was published by Atmosphere in 2020 and my second series kicked off with Unburied in 2022. I’m now gearing up for the sequel to Big Beasts this year.
Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?
Since Big Beasts was a standalone novel in my mind, I never intended to play anymore in this world. Thus, there was no Lost Beasts until I was encouraged to explore a little more. As the book came together, the title sprang out of the events and the characters, which is one of the most wonderful things about an artistic endeavor.
How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?
This cover, unlike my first two, has been a challenge to put together. I had greater expectations for it and worked really hard with Ronaldo and his designers to get it just right. Once we landed on it, I was once again amazed at the magic the designer wrought bringing everything to life.
Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?
As alluded to earlier, I’ve been telling stories for so long that I can’t imagine not doing it. When I started out, I looked to certain writers, seeking to either make my work echo theirs or lament the things I couldn’t do. Then I discovered what made my voice unique as an author and embraced it. The need to do it is quite motivating.
What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?
During a brief run at the dramatics in high school, I had to give up the plum role of Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet to take over for our Romeo, who came down with mono. I was bummed to have to surrender the role, but jumped in and learned the new part in less than three weeks for opening night.
What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?
Hearing from readers who love the story is the most meaningful part of telling these tales. I genuinely love it.
If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?
Hmmm, this is a challenging one. Picking just three, they would be Paint It Black, Mr. Blue Skies, and Surface Pressure. This was more fun than I expected.
What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?
With this book, I hope readers take away how even in the midst of challenges, life can be worth it. I’ve been telling everyone there’s a strong duality in this work where a few characters are pushed to grow in ways they might not have selected for themselves.
What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?
I’m in the process of working with alpha and sensitivity readers on the sequel to Unburied. As a series, that proves an exciting exercise because of all the varied voices. I’m also editing a pair of science fiction novellas to see if there might be a novel in them. And finally, I’m letting a supernatural mystery with a dash of romance in it rest before starting to smooth the edges.
How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?
I regularly extol the joys of working with Atmosphere Press because every experience from my first to my current has been wonderful. Atmosphere Press is clearly artist-focused. They go out of their way to treat everyone and their stories as the most important thing they are doing. Also, they make sure I’m involved with anything and everything I want to be. I said earlier the cover for Lost Beast was a challenge, but I also acknowledge how fortunate I was to be able to have a hand in crafting it in the first place.
I believe it is important to also say that I’m able to chart my own course as an author. Following my first book with Atmosphere Press, it would have been so easy for them to say if I had more of the same that they’d love to work with me again. Instead of bringing them another book like Big Beasts, I called them up and pitched an epic modern dark fantasy which is charted to be a twelve-book series. They embraced the adventure while encouraging me to explore all the places I could possibly want to go. In short, Atmosphere Press is a home for artists to tell the stories they want to tell in the way they long to be told. It is my publishing home and I want more artists to experience that level of artistic freedom and encouragement.