Q: What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your books?
A: My main characters had emotional issues due to their respective pasts and the traumas they endured. Christine (“Chris”) was brutalized as a teenager and then lost her husband unexpectedly. Doug survived an extra-nasty situation in Vietnam. His dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was a foregone conclusion, but it hadn’t struck me that this was also the condition afflicting Chris. A friend made the connection and pointed that out to me as I was working on the story. I began researching PTSD, to see what it really means to be diagnosed with it, and to live with it on a daily basis. We have an enormous number of Veterans in the U.S. who deal with it every day, the best way they can. There is no absolute cure, and what therapies exist are not without consequences. It takes unimaginable determination to tackle PTSD, and enormous commitment from the people in those relationships. There are lots of sites out there for Veterans. I have links to some on my website.
Q: Plotter or Pantser? Why?
A: I’m a borderline Obsessive-Compulsive -- I’m both! The story hits for me like a full-blown video. I begin madly jotting down the essence of it as fast as possible. My editor calls it “throwing up on the page.” When I run out of steam, I go back and dissect it, making order out of the chaos that I didn’t notice at first. After that, I turn it over to my editor. She shows me my weak spots, and I go back at it. I end up with multiple revised outlines, discarded stuff, new stuff, etc. until the story truly is done.
Q: What are the most important attributes for remaining sane as a writer?
A: I’m not sure that’s humanly possible – being a writer and retaining sanity. On some level you have to be crazy to want to do this and be serious about it. You have to force yourself to step back on a regular basis. You become so engrossed in the story and characters that you lose your sense of them if you don’t. I get up, move around, soak in the tub, make coffee or tea, go weed my flowers – anything to interrupt my brain glazing over. Going to the gym is good, too.
You have to remember that this is serious work as much as self-indulgent creative expression, and you can’t do a good job if you don’t take care of yourself.
Q: Who should play Chris in a film of your book?
A: I have actually thought about this a lot, and asked friends about it. The current choice is Diane Lane. She’s the perfect age and height, and very pretty. She’d have to lighten her hair and wear contacts, though, so maybe not. Elizabeth Perkins or Kim Basinger could be good, too.
Q: Tell us about the absolute BEST fan letter you have received.
A: That’s easy. It was hand-delivered by a silver-haired gentleman who found my book in the local library. Jim and his wife both read and enjoyed it, so he tracked me down and brought me a handful of their favorite romance paperbacks, from their personal collection, complete with little comments they had made in the margins over the years. He’s met my son and husband, and every once in a while brings me another book, or sends me a pertinent news article that he thinks I ought to be aware of. Jim believes that I am going to eventually be right up there with all the “great ones.” Who could ask for a better fan than that?
Q: Do you have a website or blog?
A: Absolutely! Valleybrown.com has been up for a while, but we’re still playing with it. I am html illiterate, so I need someone else to keep it updated and marginally optimized. My blog at Valleybrown.wordpress.com is a lot more active. I don’t post frequently, but I like being able to post thoughts on stuff other than my books. I actually have a second blog, over on tumblr. It’s called “Wordslop” and is meant to be a little off-the-wall. I’m coercing some of my writing buddies to do guest posts. It’s good practice for them and gives the blog a divergent personality. We’re also considering posting short stories in installments to alternate with more typical posts. Like everything in life, it’s a WIP.
“Passion for writing keeps me up in front of my word processor long past the dictates of my better judgment. When I’m not writing about Chris and Doug, or poetry, etc. or creating art (glass or fabric), you can find me cruising Southern Indiana on my ’99 Honda Shadow.”
Member: Romance Writers of America; Indiana Chapter – RWA.
Speeding Tickets is a contemporary romantic suspense novel centered on recently widowed Christine Cassler, whose journey through trauma and tragedy is intermixed with the hope of finding love once more. Chris is hardly prepared for a tumultuous romance with a mysterious handsome biker, though, and when she uncovers a scheme of deceit and embezzlement at work, it threatens not only her second chance at happiness, but also her very life. Speeding Tickets is a story about one woman’s journey through trauma and tragedy, and how the power of love keeps her moving forward. It touches on the sensitive topic of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the different ways in which people deal with wounds that never heal, yet somehow find strength and courage to love again.