Q: How did you become interested in writing?
A: I wrote my first book when I was in Kindergarten; it was a short story about a puppy. Then my writing just continued…I wrote books all through elementary school and continued beyond. I finished my first draft of When Darkness Tries to Hide when I was 15 years old. I had read a lot of different books while growing up that had been about high school. When I entered high school I was completely shocked by what was going on around me! It was nothing like Sweet Valley High or the Babysitters Club. There was an abundance of backbiting, backstabbing, substance abuse, and kids just being mean to each other. I felt that there needed to be a realistic book series out there for kids to read so that they could be prepared for the social battles of high school. So, I wrote The Right Person, which is the first book in the Montgomery Lake High series. I fell in love with my characters, and the subject matters, so I decided to write a sequel (which is now When Darkness Tries to Hide). I have recently finished the 5th book in the series, and I plan to keep writing as long as I am able to!
Q: What should people know about When Darkness Tries to Hide?
A: The book picks up two months after where The Right Person left off. There is a terrible storm that brings destruction to the town and into the lives of some of the characters. One of the characters, Andy, gets injured and another character, Jason, feels responsible. (Although no one knows at first exactly why Jason feels that way.) The story follows many characters reactions to the accident, and how everyone comes together to help Andy. Jason is the central focus of the story, and the transformation he goes through as a result of feeling responsible for what happened to Andy. The main point of the story is the battle between light and darkness, and how people often do not realize they are living a dark life because everyone around them is living the same way, until a ray of light shines in and breaks through the darkness.
Q: Have any experiences from your own life affected the storyline of the book?
A: I have not written about anything that has happened to me exactly, but everything in the books is based on things I have witnessed teenagers go through, or emotional/social/physical/spiritual battles that I have fought in my life. The books are filled with lessons I have learned from my own experiences, but I have woven those lessons into the completely fictitious world of Montgomery Lake High. It is my hope that teens and pre-teens can learn from these lessons and not go through as much pain as I had to in order to learn them!
Q: What is it like waiting for each book to be published?
A: It is exciting!! My next book, which will be published apart from the series as a novel, is called Montgomery’s Masquerade: The Battle for Innocence. It is a prequel to the series that takes place when the main characters were in 7th grade. I just got it back from my editor, who is actually from Pearson Publishing, and I am excited to review her edits and send it along to my publisher, Strategic Book Group. They had read the rough copy earlier this month and accepted it. The whole process has many steps, and a lot of approvals that need to be signed off on. It is excited to see the internal layout of the book. I get to work with my publisher’s book designers to bring the book up to the vision that I have for it. This, along with approving the front and back cover designs, is a very exciting part of the process. I always get butterflies in my stomach when I open up the first printed copy of each book. The process can take anywhere from six months to a year, depending on many different circumstances. I enjoy being a part of the process. It is always a learning experience, and I find that very rewarding!
Q: Do you have a “life verse” that you have claimed? If so what is it and why is that verse so meaningful to you?
A: Psalm 84:11 has significant meaning to me. It states that God withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly. This verse is a reminder to me that anything that I pray for and do not receive is not really good for me, and that I only desire it because I have limited understanding of what is best for me. God knows what is best, and as long as I am walking with Him, He will not withhold anything good from me. So whenever God closes a door in my life, I recall Psalm 84:11 and find great comfort and peace within its promise.
Q: Who (or what) is your greatest encourager when you write and why?
A: I have a wonderful support system of family and friends who encourage me in my writing. What encourages me the most, though, is the world of Montgomery Lake High that exists within my mind. It is like God has put this world in my head, and these characters that are so real to me, and I write to express what is within me: a message of faith to reach out to the youth.
Q: Is there anything else that you would like your readers to know about you that would give us even more of a glimpse into your personality and passions?
A: “Passionate” would be the best word to describe me. When I’m into something, I’m into it with my whole heart. I love my life and think God has blessed me with the best friends, best dog, best job, and the best mother in the entire world. Writing is my favorite pastime. I have learned a lot about conquering fear this past year. The ocean moves me. I love North Carolina and feel like a part of my heart is there. I love to learn and figure out how things are connected. I see deeper meaning in everything. I believe love is the answer to life’s toughest questions. I have “songs” with the majority of my friends and hope the lyrics always mean something to me. My faith is in Jesus Christ, and I’m in love with Him. I have a strange fetish for football movies. I am an avid skier. I have a lot of hope and believe nothing is impossible with God.