Beginning at a young age, I’ve been broken by the people who were supposed to love me the most. By people who were supposed to protect and care for me, and value me above all others.
I learned to rely on and trust myself more than anyone else with each heartbreaking lesson and as a result, I’ve been able to walk away from many people, friend and loved one, and erase them completely. I was a survivor; resilient and galvanized by tragedy and circumstances; outwardly normal, but inside, desperately fearful. I’m much like the main character, Brynn, in my Eva Series. She’s a reflection of me; strong, capable, and a survivor, but irreparably broken yet hopeful.
I didn’t realize just how shattered and vulnerable I was for most of my life. But then I became a mother and a few years later when personal tragedy struck, the pain I had buried deep inside for so many years returned with a vengeance, nearly destroying me.
That’s when I began writing, again.
I had written as a teen and as a young adult, but when I began writing Leaving Eva, I wrote to survive. I wrote because the alternative to writing was desperation and depression. I wrote because the words brought peace and the stories, clarity. I wrote because I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t sleep and when I wrote, I didn’t think about those things and I was able to be myself again. I realized that writing broken stories healed me in a way that nothing else could. Writing drove away the darkness and my children needed a mother who could make sense of the world, for them and for herself.
Writing beautiful broken stories with heart, has given me hope, life, and far more love than I ever imagined that it would. I didn’t realize that these were always the stories that drew me in and touched me the most. They were the stories that reach deep inside of me and writing them now, has made me whole and given me peace in my life that nothing else has.
The chaos has quieted and the noise and dissipated, and once again, I am finally whole.
Where are you from? Does the area you live in influence you writing?
I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio so until recently, I knew a lot about heartbreak from our Sports Teams. Haha. I was actually born in Seoul, Korea and was adopted around the age of three. That experience, though I don’t remember it, has certainly influenced my writing.
Tell us your latest news!
I recently released the third and final novel in the Eva Series, Saving Eva. With that book, I also created a collection of all three books for readers who would like to purchase them all at once. This month, my first audiobook narrated by Christine Rauch will be released. I’m incredibly excited for this audiobook release because it’s been on my to-do list for quite some time.
In 2017, I formed my own imprint, Soul Sister Press, LLC., where I’ll get to release my Beautifully Broken stories with Heart. I chose the name in honor of my many soul sisters who I love with all of my heart, who have been on this life journey with me and mean so much to me.
When and why did you begin writing? What inspired you to write your first book?
I began writing at a very early age. I don’t even remember my first story but I do remember that the main character was named Nicole and she had leukemia. I was young when I wrote that and tackled tough material even at that age.
Leaving Eva was inspired by my own experience of being abandoned around the age of two and came to me after the birth of my second son. Eva was a girl around the age of two and I couldn’t stop thinking about her until I wrote about her.
What book(s) / author(s) have influenced your life and writing?
I’ve always loved big stories, from many POVs, characters, and sub-stories. One of my earliest influencers was John Steinbeck and one of my favorite books of his, is East of Eden. The characters are raw and imperfect, ugly and sympathetic, and I consumed them all.
I’ve always been a fan of classics and mythology; anything with a tragic twist or even a less-than-perfect ending, call out to me. Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, C.S. Lewis, Maya Angelou, and Shakespeare were all early favorites. When I was in my teens, I fell in love with the VC Andrews books, Sweet Valley High, and anything I could get my hands on in the local library.
Now I read a lot of non-fiction, and women’s contemporary fiction; each book creating a world of ideas inside of me that I can’t wait to make my own.
Tell us about your characters and how they came to be? Have they been in your head for a long time?
My characters are often flawed, hopeful, and imperfect. They often struggle against themselves and battle their own demons, searching endlessly for redemption. Brynn (Eva Series) was the first character to call out to me in a way that I couldn’t forget about her and had no choice but to share her story. In many ways, she was me and she came to me at a time when I needed to write about her.
Other characters often evolve on their own and find space in my head until I can fit them into the story somewhere. I usually like to let them sit and grow for awhile, but once their on the page they take on a life of their own. Adam (Eva Series) became someone completely different than I intend him to be. Once they’ve been released into the world, they take on a life of their own.
What motivates you to write?
It’s a need that I can’t explain. Until I wrote my first book, I used to narrate EVERYTHING in my head which made me feel incredibly abnormal. It’s almost as though I saw life through subtitles and it was very disorienting, but it had always been this way and I was accustomed to it. When I wrote my first book, the subtitles went away and for the first time, there was quiet. I don’t know if that makes sense, and I don’t even know if all writers feel this way, but when I say that I write to quiet the voices in my head, I truly mean it. Since I began writing regularly again, things are more peaceful.
What is the hardest part of writing?
The hardest part about writing is starting and stopping. Because I haven’t always been able to write on a regular basis, getting a good flow going can be challenging. In the past few months, I’ve been getting up early nearly every day, committed to writing more regularly, and it has been much easier. I find that the story flows better, the words come easier, and there is greater progress than ever before.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Wow… where should I begin. I’ve learned many things since writing my first book, both technical and about life in general.
I’ve learned that the Indie Book World is full of amazing, generous, beautiful, and kind-hearted people who I love and feel akin to.
I’ve also learned that nobody walks this world alone, and that if you keep your heart open, you’ll find your tribe.
I’ve learned that writing is far more healing than anything else, and that writing makes me better at everything else in my life.
Lastly, I’ve learned that my stories find their way to those who love and appreciate them. I know that I should never worry about finding success because in the end I have everything I could ever need or want. Every person who finds my books and loves them as much as I do is simply an added treasure, and I am truly grateful.
Where do you get your ideas?
I get my ideas from life and watching people, reading the paper, watching the news, talking to people, listening to music, watching movies, and reading. Like most writers, I’m a keen observer, so I see a lot and I notice things that others might not. Inspiration is everywhere so I keep my eyes and ears open as much as possible until I can get it down on paper. This should serve as a warning for anyone who knows me. Haha.
What does your family think of your writing?
They are proud of me, but to the kids I’m just mom, and to my husband I’m just wife. The only book my boys care about that I’ve written is, The Forgotten, because the characters were inspired by them. Otherwise, I’m still just the person who cooks for them, takes them to practices, cares for them when they’re sick, and comforts them when they need it the most. I’m their center and I just happen to write books, but they would love me even if I didn’t write.
What is the best advice you would give to inspiring authors?
My advice would be to just write. Don’t aspire; instead Do.
Don’t critique your writing in the beginning, just get it on the page. The editing process is to clean it up and make it better, the writing process is to get it into the world. I didn’t write for many years because I hated everything I wrote and then I realized that if I had just persisted and kept going, I would’ve written my first book twenty years ago. I was so worried with perfection that I didn’t realize that there was no perfection without a story. I wish I would’ve known that then. I know that now and most of what I write in the beginning sucks but I keep going because I know that it can turn into something beautiful if I am patient and persistent.
If someone wants to be an author, they have to write. That’s the most important thing.
What book are you reading now?
I just started reading A Thousand Boy Kisses by Tillie Cole. I’m only a little bit in, but it’s been on my TBR list for awhile.
I’m also reading Stark September by CD Bradley, who I met at the Rebels and Readers Author Event, who is an absolutely beautiful person inside and out. I recently finished Bad Mommy by Tarryn Fisher, which was mind-blowing and I absolutely loved it.
I was the girl who hid under the covers with her flashlight, reading until she fell asleep, the girl who saw monsters and fairies when she closed her eyes, and believed that there could truly be a Narnia if she wished it hard enough. I was the girl who loved to read more than playing outside, and did everything with her nose in a book.
In 2017 I began my own imprint, Soul Sister Press, LLC and will get to work with the amazing creatives that I’ve been able to build relationships with over the past few years. I have been incredibly fortunate to meet amazing people who challenge and teach me every day. I am grateful for the life I get to live and the love and support from friends, family, and readers.
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