Hey Kira! Thanks for stopping by my blog! :D
Thank you so much for having me!
I live in Los Angeles with my husband. We just bought a house and consequently are spending way more time at hardware stores than I ever thought possible (who knew one house could have so many light bulbs to replace?). My day job is writing for TV, pretty much the best job ever. I’m grateful every day. Some of the shows I’ve written for are the cult hit vampire detective show “Moonlight” and “Eureka” and “Alphas” for the Syfy Channel. I also worked in computer game design for a number of years – you can see glimpses of this in the Parish Mail interactive ebooks – and enjoy playing Xbox or PS3 when I can find the time.
Could you describe the first book in your Parish Mail series, Dead Letter Office, for those not familiar with the series yet?
In Dead Letter Office we meet the series heroine Celia, a teenager who’s just lost her father. She’s newly arrived in New Orleans with her mom and has a thousand things to adjust to: a family she’s never met, a new city, new school, new friends. On Halloween a massive supernatural disturbance rocks the city, and Celia finds a letter, over a hundred years old, apparently addressed to her and pleading for her help. Celia becomes convinced that the letter holds the key to solving the present-day death of a homeless veteran. Helping her are Tilly, a quirky witch, Donovan, the son of a cop, and the enigmatic Luc, who is much more than he first appears. The mystery deepens in Post Mortem, the second Parish Mail book, when one of Celia’s friends goes missing right before Homecoming.
Dead Letter Office is described as an “active” title. What does that means and how does it influence your writing process?
Dead Letter Office and all the Parish Mail books are interactive, sort of a next generation/2.0 version of Choose Your Own Adventure. At key points you get to make decisions for Celia, and those decisions have consequences. Some of the choices are personal: does Celia accept the popular Peyton’s invitation to attend a swanky Halloween party, or does she hang out with Tilly in the French Quarter? Does Celia choose Donovan or Luc to help her solve the mystery? Other decision points let you play detective along with Celia. Which clue should she follow? Which suspect should she chase? The choices you make determine the story for the rest of the book and also unlock clues to the overarching series mystery. The writing process involves not just a chapter by chapter outline but also a detailed flowchart like I used to make as a game designer, mapping out all the paths, decision points, and clues. Writing an interactive book is creatively very challenging, but a lot of fun.
In the description for Dead Letter Office on Goodreads, it also says that you wrote it like a TV series. What’s that process like and how do you weave all of those over-arching aspects into one story?
As the first book in the Parish Mail series, Dead Letter Office is like the pilot (first) episode of a TV show. It sets up the world including the characters and the overarching mystery, while having a specific case for Celia to solve by the end of the book. Post Mortem and the other books to come also have their own single mystery that wraps up by the end, but also further advance both the long-term story and the emotional development of the characters.
Where do you get your inspiration while writing from?
From all over, really. The city of New Orleans and its astonishingly rich history is the primary inspiration for the entire Parish Mail series. Celia herself was inspired by the strong and smart teen heroines of “Veronica Mars” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” two TV shows I’m a big fan of. But I also find creative sparks from music – I listened to Dixieland jazz and blues while writing Dead Letter Office – and books and movies.
And my final question: I’m always curious about authors as readers, so do you have any favourite authors or books that you’d recommend?
My favorite book about writing is Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, with Stephen King’s On Writing a close second. For recent YA, I loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. I’m currently reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and can hardly can put it down, it’s so compelling and poignant with wonderfully grounded and specific character details. And I’m biased of course, but Coliloquy’s entire catalog of interactive ebooks is terrific.
So, what do you think?
Does Dead Letter Office sound like something you'd like to read?