Your latest book takes place in another ski town. You must like skiing. Do you want to meet up with my group? We're headed to Big Bear soon. -- Janelle, Santa Barbara, CA
Thanks for the invite, Janelle, but I haven't been skiing since the ancient times when snowboarders were confined to one or two runs, ski boots felt like sinking your feet into fast drying cement, and you had to yell out your marital status in line to avoid angering the chairlift bunnies if you had the nerve to ski alone. I'd probably embarass everyone with my lack of skiing savvy in modern times.
Which TV show would you like to be trapped in? -- Marion, Paramus, NJ
Portlandia. That show is so wacky, it would never get boring.
I thought you said you'd never give us more of Willa and Quinn? -- Val, Williamsburg, VA
I said I'd never publish their book, and I haven't. I stripped the best parts of the book and rewrote every scene, keeping only the story thread the same. Even their names changed. Ha! I've never admitted to that, but I didn't want to waste Quinn's original name in an unpublished book. Little did I know, I'd be putting out 4 more books in which she makes appearances. Never say never.
Where were you 3 hours ago? -- Regina, Woodinville, WA
Why do I suddenly feel like we're in a relationship, and we're about to have one of "those" talks?
What question do you hate to answer? -- Casey, St. Louis, MO
That one.
What made you want to extend Lindsay and Suzanne's story? -- Marissa, Nampa, ID
As one of my favorites, I actually liked where Objection ended, but I recently reread the story and really got into the characters again. I thought it could be just as good, only longer (about double the length the original,) so I gave it a try. And I've temporarily run out of new ideas, but don't tell anyone.
How do you like to start a conversation? -- Michele, Albuquerque, NM
"What position do you hold in your satanic cult?"
That tends to weed out the really uptight people who'd never enjoy chatting with me anyway.
What's your blood type? -- Angela, Blaine, WA
Are you a vampire?
A book on clichés? How did you ever come up with that idea? -- Cate, Beaverton, OR
I really wanted to write a book with a character who experiences every cliché that makes me roll my eyes when I'm reading a romance, but I just couldn't bring myself to put one of my characters through that. It would be painful to write. So, next best thing? Make one of my characters listen to nothing but clichés being thrown at her.
Did you leave out any clichés? -- Cate, Beaverton, OR
So many. I had a long list of clichés in my head that I jotted down and an email buddy also sent over a few that I'd forgotten. Not all could be turned into a full story, so I had to leave them out. I wished I could have fit in the punch-to-defend-the-honor-of-the-girlfriend cliché. That one is so overdone, and there are never any consequences for the attacker. In real life, someone who punches someone else is very likely going to be arrested and then sued in a civil action case to get money for the plastic surgery their victim always wanted.
Are you ever going to write another book with the Virginia Friends? -- Kim, Billings, MT
I've said no a few times, but I can't seem to get them to stop stalking my thoughts. I don't think I'll go with another full book, but I do have a short story in mind that might drag a few of them in. We'll see how it goes. Take a look at Cliched Love, though. Since the ten-year anniversary of Wasted Heart is coming up in a few months, I thought it would be fun to revisit some of the characters from Austy's Seattle circle without actually bringing in the majors. Once I did that, it made sense to use some of the same locations as well. You may not be able to spot them all, but I had fun writing it.
You seem to keep a low profile, no social media accounts that I can find. Do you ever do book signings or interviews? -- Jamie, Cambridge, MA
I don't get much computer time in the clink, so I like to use it wisely. Writing new stories seems more important to me than posting pictures of my lunch. I do plan to break out of here in a few months, which will give me more time for social media if I want to give that a try. Book signings probably won't happen. I think I've mentioned this before, but I've twice seen pretty popular authors in bookstores waiting to sign their books and people just walking right past them. No way my less popular self would draw a crowd if they can't. As for interviews, I finally consented to giving one last year. Author AJ Adaire has a popular series of author interviews she's conducted and I gave it a go. It was relatively painless...after the initial threats, of course. Check out the interview if you've got the time.
How realistic are your books? -- Elaine, Tulsa, OK
Since they aren't set in an imaginary land of fantasy creatures, they're about as realistic as any fiction you can read. Have I experienced much of the stories I write? Some, like I once had to help someone on her wedding day because there were a million moving parts that she thought her vendors would magically be able to coordinate on their own while she was busy getting stuffed into a gown and having her makeup screwed up by the person she'd hired. After that crisis resolved itself (or I helped resolve it by swiping a washcloth over her face and telling her to do her own damn makeup like she does every other day of her life) I was able to be a guest when I wasn't corralling drunk relatives of the couple before they made fools of themselves. But all books need a little suspension of disbelief.
What's the first thing you notice about people? -- Pauline, Kansas City, MO
Whether or not they're smarmy assholes. After that, the hair. If someone changes his/her hair and I don't see them regularly, I'd never pick them out of a lineup.
Has your greatest fear ever come true? -- Monica, Santa Fe, NM
Yes. I gave my fear to Skye from One-Off. I was once photographed at a church wedding. I'm forced to look at the photo every time I visit the couple, who are somehow still married.
Would you go out of your way to help a good friend? -- Gina, Ottawa, Canada
No. I only help good friends who are in my way, and only to get them out of my way.
Do you like talking on the phone? -- Keri, Helena, MT
I'd rather sit through a seven-course meal with an obnoxious presidential candidate (you know which one I'm talking about) than talk on the phone. I treat my cellphone (the only phone I have) as if it's stationary most days. Half the time I've forgotten that it's still sitting out in the car in the garage. That should give you a pretty good idea of how much I like talking on phones.
Will you marry me? I'll bring the vodka. -- Sara, Canton, OH
Oh, darlin', you'd need a hell of a lot more vodka than you can possibly get in a year to stay married to me.
Where do you get the names for your characters? -- Dani, Arlington, VA
If you've got good computer skills, it's not difficult to hack identity databases and randomly select cool sounding names (and other pertinent data to feed your online shopping habit.) If you're not good with computers, then you probably have a list of names you like or run searches on a baby naming site. I had to find more names for Clichéd Love than any other, and I wanted to poke fun at all the unisex and traditionally male names used in lesbian fiction books. I think I used almost every name on most unisex lists. For all the others, if I give an unusual name to one character, I'll try to find something a little more familiar for the other character. Austy and Elise, Falyn and Molly, Vega and Iris and so on. If I have to be specific, like with One-Off, when I needed two Scottish names, I'll utilize genealogy maps and name origin sites to get the right names.
Why do you slow play every relationship in your books? -- Britney, Everett, WA
Britney, you poor thing. You're part of the Now Generation, or whatever they're calling Kardashian-obsessed, Snooki-idolizing under 25-year-olds these days, right? You want a Kodak relationship. (I realize you're too young to get that reference. Google it, as you kids say.) If you've never had to wait for anything in your life, you won't appreciate my romances, but you also don't know what you're missing. Savor is not just a word that you slap a "y" on and use to describe food. Learn it and live it, my dear.
Where do you find inspiration for your books? -- Alice, Saint Petersburg, FL
You can pick up a lot from the people around you, especially if you’re good with electronics, willing to break the law, and, you know ... disregard the Constitution. Parabolic mics have done wonders for my cache of plot ideas. There are some mighty interesting freaks--I mean, people, living in my subdivision.
What's a typical writing day like for you? Do you make yourself write every day? -- Lisa, Providence, RI
I pay someone to write for me. I tried writing on my own, but thinking up those stories, spending the time typing it out, making an effort at editing--it's a hassle, especially when writers will work for food and "the love of the craft." Come on, who thinks like that?
Are any of your characters based on people you know, and if so, which ones? -- Diane, Salem, OR
Now if I told you that, well, I wouldn't actually have to kill you. But I might be sued for likeness rights, have to sit through a lengthy courtroom procedure where I'd probably lose most of my assets, then I'd just want to kill you.
What do you do for fun on the weekends? -- Penny, Eugene, OR
Searching for Sasquatch with all my friends who live in their moms' basements. And drinking, lots and lots of drinking.
What is the weirdest question anyone has asked you about your books or you as an author? -- Hayley, Dallas, TX
"What do you wear to bed?"
Creeped me out a bit. Kinda like some crank caller asking, "What are you wearing?" Options for a response are: flannel (read: unsexy), jammies (read: childish), sleep shirt and undies (read: my mom couldn't think of what to get me for my birthday in college so she grabbed the first t-shirt she saw in the U bookstore without checking the size), boxers and tank top (read: lesbian standard), silk nightie (read: woman trying too hard to sound sexy), satin and lace teddy (read: man pretending to be sexy woman), or nothing at all, baby, what about you? (read: I'm just arrogant enough to think you imagine me naked every night when you crawl into bed.) Even if one of these was true, like I'd give out that kind of information.
What would be the one thing a date could say that would make you run away? -- Morgan, Grand Rapids, MI
Me: "So, what kind of books do you like to read?"
Date: "I don't really like reading much."
Me: "You mean you don't have much time for it?"
Date: "No, I look through magazines and read texts and such, but reading a book, ehh, not into it. If it's good, they'll make it into a movie anyway, right?"
Me: "Yeah...I'm out. Enjoy the rest of your dinner."
If writing isn't your full-time job, what do you do for a living? -- Camilla, Atlanta, GA
I strategize logistical positioning and marketing synergies for service oriented corporations to take them to the next level of global dominance and, of course, evil.
What book would you most like to live out? -- Claudia, Daly City, CA
Cruel question, Claudia. Enticing enough to make me want to answer even though some people might interpret the answer as my favorite book, which I've never answered and it might not be. Okay, let me see if I can go by process of elimination. Can't be any of the Virginia Clan books because I'd want to punch several of the friends for being so pushy and annoying. And then I'd want to punch Jessie and Elise (and Austy and Lauren) for being movie star/model gorgeous, just because movie star/model gorgeous people deserve to be punched from time to time. One evening with Raven's family and I'd run the other way, so Uncommon Emotions is out. Not Mending Defects because I know that heart condition too well and don't want any part of living it, thanks. I definitely don't have the temperament to handle the clients in Something So Grand. I'd say Life Rewired, but I don't want Molly's job and Falyn's been through the ringer. Full Court Pressure would be fun for about two minutes until I had to deal with stupid press conferences and college athletes who think they know everything. I'd rather do prison time than be a maid of honor, so One-Off is probably out. I wouldn't want to be a writer under pressure like Vega in Clichéd Love, nor would I have the stomach to listen to all those love stories. Crap, I knew I'd depress myself if I tried to answer this question. Prior to writing my last two books, I would have said Wasted Heart for almost all the chapters and only if they stayed in Seattle. But now that I have a couple staying in Seattle with several of the cool people from Wasted Heart and absolutely none of the obnoxious Virginia Clan friends, it's a toss up between Clichéd Love and One-Off because I really, really do like a Scottish accent and the end caught me by surprise. I know that sounds crazy since I wrote it, but I didn't have that ending in mind when I started.
Have you ever had any of your nude photos stolen and posted? -- Deandra, Los Angeles, CA
Oh, sure. It happens to the most glamorous of us all. Someone hacked my phantom iPhone (the latest one that I stood in line eight hours for, because if I'm getting a communications device that will put me at the beck and call of everyone I know and some I don't, I want it to be the hottest gadget available) and downloaded all the nudie pics I took of myself. I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but posing for naked selfies is a daily activity for me right after attending weddings and binge watching insipid reality shows about people who think they're more important than they are. So, yeah, it was a real scandal, mostly because of how everyone I know reacted: getting eye surgery or sustaining blows to the head to forget the images--the little drama queens. If I have to look at their coma-inducing vacation pics, they should be able handle a nudie shot or two. Am I wrong about this?
This may sound stupid, but how do you pronounce your name? -- Tammy, Boulder, CO
Actually, you're not the first person to ask. Lynn rhymes with gin, which, like me, is also known to be dry and cause headaches. Wait, did you mean my last name? That one might be a little harder to figure out, I guess. Galli rhymes with valley.
How did you first deal with manuscript rejections? -- Sonya, San Antonio, TX
I keep a list. Publisher websites help with email addresses and bios. Do you have any idea what you can do to a person with an email address and a bio? Oh, sorry, you asked how I first dealt with rejections, didn't you? I cried because I'm sensitive like that. Sent it out to more publishers. Cried some more. Tried agents then novel contests then more publishers until I got my first offer. So, keep trying. You're probably still years away from the drinking and bitterness.
Why do you write? -- Marie, Springfield, IL
Because I never learned to juggle flaming torches while riding a unicycle.
While writing, have you ever felt like you're one of the characters? -- Jillian, Flagstaff, AZ
Almost as if I were a possessor demon, yes (or for a really old reference, Sybil.) Makes me either really interesting or unbearable to live with when I'm working on a book.
Not to be particular, but did you know that the color gray is spelled with an "a"? -- Kari, Chico, CA
I did. Does it bug you that I spell it with an "e"? Grate on your nerves a little or a lot? Get over it. The Brits use an "e" as do many in this country. It's acceptable either way. Thanks for not being particular, though.
Why aren't there any photos of you on book covers or this website? -- Amy, Redmond, WA
You know those awful photos that a paparazzo lives to take so he can pay his rent for a full year? Some unsuspecting celebrity making a last minute dash to the supermarket because her kids are screaming for cereal and her idiot husband used the rest of the milk in his coffee that morning and left her to deal with the two spoiled kids when all three nannies have called in sick. She doesn't anticipate that someone would want a photo of her coming out of the supermarket with her prized milk and even more prized vodka. Then flash, she looks up and flash again. She's confused, she's angry, she's overworked, overtired, overexposed. You know the kind of picture I'm talking about, right? Those are the only kinds of pictures I take and none of those circumstances apply to me. I'm not about to have something like that on my books or the site. Learn to live with the disappointment.
How long does it take you to write a book? -- Sarah, Seattle, WA
Three weeks. I just like making you wait 6-12 months for each book because I'm all about you the reader.
Do you need a hug? -- Tiffany, Sparks, NV
Not as much as I need a vodka.