Give us a little bit about your background and when you first started publishing.
My love for literature began at a very young age and was nurtured by my father who not only read many books but loved to create his own stories. I always loved getting lost in a good book and enjoyed writing my own short stories in junior high and high school, having several published in the school papers.
Publishing a book of my own was always a dream and yet, I had no idea what to write about, aside from my instinctive love for history and the humans who sculpted the world as we know it today. Who were those people, really? What did they think or feel or know outside the lines of the books we read about them? I wanted to fill in those blanks and bring those characters to life someday, but after college, I got married, had kids, and life got crazy.
One day I was lying in bed with a headache when the entire first series I ever wrote, The Sisters of Danu, flooded my mind in vivid detail. Grabbing a notebook, I wrote it all down as fast as possible. Not even owning a computer, my mother loaned me her old laptop so I could write my stories. I juggled being a stay at home mom, running a baking company, and writing three books before I finally published the first book, “Forbidden Fate” in November 2016 as an indie author.
I now have over a dozen books published and just signed on with Dragonblade publishing, which truly feels like a dream come true!
Historical Setting Related:
Have you visited the places you’ve written about or just read about them?
I have not yet been able to physically visit the places I have written about in Scotland or Ireland, but lots of research goes into my work to make sure I have accurate details. I use maps, old reference materials, and have even contacted the sites for booklets or detailed information. One day, I will visit the places in my books!
What interesting settings have you used (homes, battlefields, events in history, etc)?
The Irvines of Drum, my current series for Dragonblade, is set in medieval Scotland at Drum Castle in Aberdeen and takes place during the Battle of Harlaw. I have many battlefields in my books, as history is, unfortunately, one war after the other in many cases, and some of the greatest stories can be told in the midst of such events. The Cliffs of Mohr appear in my earlier Irish romance novels, and my pirate books also take place in Ireland at Castle Rockfleet on Clare Island. I do my best to make the details of these historical places accurate so the reader can feel as if they are truly there.
Why did you choose the particular period you write in? What is it about that era that speaks to you?
I would have to say the period chose me. I have always been a fan of the Wars of the Roses, so when ancient Irish stories or medieval tales were storming my brain, I was tasked with learning every detail about that time, how they lived, what they wore or ate, how they slept or prepared food. Every single detail of life had to be carefully recreated. I wish I could have simply thought of a story during a time I knew better, but the characters, as they say, demand to be who they are and when they were, regardless of the author’s will!
I wish I could say I had one set writing process, but alas, it varies. Some stories are plotted out very carefully, down to the smallest detail. They usually deviate at some point in the process as, again, the characters take over and tell me what to do, but I usually stick with the main points. Some books, however, simply flow better for me when I put myself in the character’s shoes and pretend I am them as I go. What is she thinking right now? Now what? Just like every detail of my life is not plotted out, nor is theirs. It really just depends on how the story presents itself to me and how much of it came to me organically rather than requiring an incredible amount of notes. I prefer silence in most cases and working on my laptop so I can move to different rooms if my kids or many dogs are causing a ruckus!
What inspires you to create a certain character? Have you ever changed the character arc because it didn’t work with the storyline?
I have certainly created characters more than once who were intended to be villains but became so enduring to me, I simply had to make them redeemable to the reader. They were not innocent by any means and caused my other characters grief, and yet I couldn’t continue to make them solely the villain. Life isn’t always black and white; we have a gray area. Those are my gray characters. They are not your hero, but they are not your villain. In that sense, I have had to rethink the motivations of characters and create different conflicts. When I create a character, I am inspired by the unique qualities they own that make them more realistic. Everyone has goals and fears. What are theirs? What will they do to achieve those goals and how will those fears become an obstacle? Are they stubborn, loners, social, humorous, etc? Every person is unique down to temperament and nervous habits and beliefs, and so should every character. This means not all will be as likable as others. But they will all have their qualities that add value to the story and support the other characters. Perhaps the angry, stern father is responsible for the raising of the strong-willed, spirited heroine we all fall in love with. The characters must shape or affect the others in some way, better or worse, as do all our personal relationships.
Do you have a certain quirk in your writing process? Do the stars have to be aligned or do you have to have your favorite tea? Where do you do your best writing?
I try to have a routine and writing goals. It keeps me on task. On an ideal day, I take my kids to school, come home and make a protein shake, work out while watching an episode of whatever show I am stuck on at the time (right now it’s Schitt$ Creek), then I sit down and get some social media work done, check in on my pages and chat with my readers before opening up my manuscript and doing all I can to meet my word count goals for the day. However, many days are not ideal. I get calls from the school because the kids are sick or some unexpected complication arises. Newsletters, setting up promos, etc, all take extra time. But I do try my best to stick to a plan and yes, I do NEED coffee. Lots and lots of it!
From all your books, who is your favorite hero and why?
My favorite hero from all of my books so far is Juan Sanchez from Beast of the Bay. He has had a very difficult life and prefers to keep to himself, yet he is very hardworking and loyal. And when he falls in love, he will do anything for the woman who stole his heart. In fact, my inspiration for his character was Jacobo from the Count of Monte Cristo. Juan is hard around the edges and willing to do anything for the people he is most loyal to, but he is willing to speak up and share his mind, pushing the limits to make certain those he loves are always safe, even from themselves.
Outside of your own genre, what’s your favorite genre?
I love any romance story from any time period, including contemporary, but I do enjoy reading historical nonfiction and paranormal stories. One of my favorite series of all time is Harry Potter. I love a story that can be completely impossible and yet feel so very possible to the reader, like Outlander!
We hope you enjoyed getting to know Mia a little better. If you haven’t had the chance, check out Mia newly released Dragonblade Publishing book, “For Love of a Laird“. Available on Amazon. Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited!