1. How did you come up with the idea for The Plaid Family?
I've been a freelance writer for several years and have always wanted to--and planned to--eventually write a book. Sometimes, though, you get so busy writing things for other people that there never seems to be enough time to put down your own thoughts. I was certain my first book would be a YA novel because all of the book ideas I had seemed to point towards that. I had several outlines made for different stories, but couldn't seem to find the time or the motivation to really dig into any of them. None of them felt right for my first book. Then I went over to my parents' house one night. My father was bursting with excitement, and I knew he must have a new painting to show me. He started pulling out these beautiful watercolor scenes. All of them were winter scenes, all had a different animal and all had a person wearing... plaid.
See, this is Plaid Son feeding the horses... And this is Plaid daughter riding her horse," he explained excitedly.
He went through every watercolor and showed me the different family members doing daily chores and activities.
"I want you to make a story about them," he said. "Will you write a little story to go with the pictures?"
I shook my head. "No." I smiled. "This isn't a story. It's a series."
And just like that, The Plaid Family Adventures was born.
2. Did you and your dad do creative projects together when you were a child?
Yes, we are that family who wrote scripts for made-up stories and then acted them out and made home movies. :) I remember one in particular where my dad acted out the part of an alien. We had him dressed up in a Halloween mask and a green jumpsuit. The special effects were lacking a bit, but it was still good, creative family fun.
3. What age of readers did you have in mind while writing the books?
I think the 6-10 year-old range seems to enjoy them the most. I do have some friends, however, who have read them to their younger kids with success.
4. How do you choose the stories to tell in your books?
Our animals actually play a key role in the storytelling. Jake, the horse in book 1 (The Runaway Horse) is a real horse on our family ranch. And I can vouch for the fact that he is just as naughty in real life as he is in the story! Annie, the cat in book 2 (The Lost Kitten), lives with my parents. And the parts of the story that pertain to how they acquired her are very true. Then of course as the author, I get to add in all the fun parts that also make it a work of fiction!
5. What has been the response to your work so far, and are you working on some other books as well?
The response has been very positive. Book 3 in The Plaid Family Adventures (The Rescue Horse) is almost ready to go to the editor. The Rescue Horse is inspired by a thoroughbred stallion I rescued last winter. I'm pretty excited about this particular story. It's going to be action-packed and full of fun. In the story, I'm also introducing some new and very interesting characters from a neighboring town. At this time, I also have plans for book 4 and 5 and am working on a separate young adult novel.