How do you move on in your life after a horrible tragedy? That's what Hope Kilpatrick must ask after losing her family in a horrible car accident right before Christmas. Unable to deal with the pain, she leaves the haunting memories of her New York home behind and escapes to Texas with an estranged aunt that is her only family. Still reeling from her loss and the culture shock of her new home, she must also deal with a school bully that has set her sights upon her. Hope's only solace is the quiet girl at the vacant lunch table, an eccentric history teacher, and the introverted handsome young man she meets at a Texas parade. Finding Hope in Texas deals with the tragedy of loss, the sardonic struggles of teenage life, and the sanguinity in finding a special someone that will help her discover the strength to live again.
1) When you write, do you plan the storyline or just go with the flow and see where it takes you? Plotter or Panster?
I have to plan, it's just my nature. Still, getting to the next page, chapter, or twist is part of the fun.
2) Where do you do most of your writing? Do you have a special spot?
I do most of my writing on the couch with my laptop. I usually have the TV on in the background. It works for me.
3) Are any of your characters based on people you know?
In my first book, The Life He Never Knew, I took the personalities of a lot of my Civil War reenacting friends and created actual Civil War soldiers out of them, which was fun for me, and fun for them trying to figure out who was who. In my second book, Finding Hope in Texas, I can only say that the history teacher is based off of me. He's kind of a jerk, but has a good heart.
4) Who was your favourite author as a child? Who is it now?
I was one of those kids that fought reading as a child and really didn't get into books until high school. I still don't have a favorite author, but I like authors from different genres. I teach history, so a lot of what I read is historical. I have enjoyed Eric Larson and his historical books though.
5) Did you always want to be an author? If not what was your ambition?
Well, like I said, I'm a history teacher. History was my calling and what got me into reading finally. I enjoy what I do. My only greater ambition would to be teach at a junior college or something like that.
6) A lot of authors have playlists for their books. Do you like to listen to music whilst you write and if so can you give us any recommendations?
No, it's the background noise of television that helps me. I think I would get confused between my writing and my singing outload if I played music.
7) Can you tell us a bit more about your book and how it came about?
Hope has gone through a horrible tragedy at home. Her family was killed in a car accident and she wants to get away from their memories. She moves to Texas to start over, with an aunt she hardly knows, only to find that a school bully is trying to make her life worse. She makes a new friend though, is encouraged by a teacher, and meets a handsome young man at a Texas parade. Finding Hope in Texas is a story about survival from tragedy, bullying, and culture shock. It really came from me wanting to write something that I think many teenagers nowadays could relate to. Many have difficulties in their lives and I wanted to make a character that even though she is struggling, she continues to have the strength to keep going, to do the best she can, and is a better person because of it.
8) What made you want to write for the YA market?
It's probably a little bit of the teacher in me. Like I said, I wanted a character and a story line that teenagers could relate to. I wanted them to see that even though they may go through tough times, it's their will and determination that will make them better people in the end.
9) Do you ever get writers block and if you do, how do you beat it?
I do. And for me, I just have to get away from writing for a bit. Sometimes I can knock out many pages in just one sitting and sometimes I will go days or weeks without looking at my laptop. I have to do other things so that I have time to think, reflect, and evaluate what I need to do next. I'm not on a time limit, so I write when I know I can only give it 100%, which, with two little guys in my house, is usually between 9 and 11pm.
10) If you could take only 3 things with you onto a desert island what would they be and why?
Food, clothing, shelter, because I want to survive.