My whole goal in writing is to help others not feel alone in life. I originally wanted to tell a story about a boys ranch from a desire as a young girl. I read a book many years ago and it was set in the 1800s, and I wanted to create a modern ideal. As the story unfolded, I knew it was an opportunity to share about a girl with a chronic illness and that needed a reprieve, and once I put it together, I knew I could make it more meaningful and powerful with personal experience.
How have you not let your chronic illness define you?
Honestly, it took therapy to help me to realize that it isn’t my identity. You don’t know any different when you’re growing up from childhood to teenagers to adulthood and so many decisions have to factor in what you are physically capable of doing. It’s defeating at times. But once I realized I was not my chronic illness, I was the person CARRYING the illness, it changed my perspective. I didn’t want to be limited anymore. So I learned to push myself little by little, and still do.
When did you decide this was the story that needed to be told?
About two years ago, I was a year into the manuscript and it wasn’t fitting the way I wanted. I was pregnant with my third and dealing with the struggles of that ontop of the side effects on my spine and joints, and I just wanted someone else to feel less alone than how I was feeling in that moment. So I made the changes and kept writing.
What draws you to the romance genre as a writer? As a reader?
I think what draws me as a writer is the same as a reader. I love tension and chemistry build up. I love the “falling in love” stages. I love HEA’s. And I love the high we ride as we follow along storylines who are focused on the JOY and GOODNESS of finding a special someone to do life with.
What are some of your favorite books (and writers if you have some)?
I absolutely love everything Amy Harmon writes. She’s my favorite and my inspiration of what I want to become. I really love historical romances in all time periods, and thrive off of many authors in that area.
What was the process of writing this book like? Did you have an outline for the trajectory of the story or did you let it see where it took you as you wrote it?
I usually have an idea or a rough outline of where I want the story to go. But most of it does not come together until I write it. I find a lot more inspiration in the writing and rewriting stages. The characters tend to speak to me as I go and I make changes along the way!
I initially had this story in single POV, and then after I added Everett’s POV I still didn’t have the flashbacks until the first draft was done!
What do you think is most understood about those who live with chronic illness?
The most understood thought, I think, would be that it isn’t easy and it is a constant thing. That menial tasks can be difficult.
From my experience at least, I don’t think that people understand the daily and sometimes hourly struggles of chronic illness unless they themselves have experienced something similar. It’s hard to really wrap your head around when you can’t SEE anything wrong, but the person internally feels it. It feels a lot like mental health in that aspect, which also is something people don’t always understand. Pain tends to lead to added depression or undesired feelings. There’s usually more going on behind the surface.
What is your writing process like?
I usually get a faint idea of something I want. Then I have to find characters and setting that feels right. So I browse Pinterest and find my inspiration pictures. And then I write down an outline of major things I want to portray in the story. Then I start writing and more story unfolds as I write.
What is your favorite character in Carry Me Away and why?
I thought Harper was going to be my favorite character because she’s the one I relate to most and use personal experiences to write. But I actually ended up loving Everett the most. Maybe because he was the hardest to figure out and I had to rewrite SO much for him. I felt his pains and wanted to get him just right.
I loved that you choose a Bukowski quote to wrap things up with in your Author Note—how has self-love made you into the person you are today?
I have learned a lot about the true meaning of love. And you cannot truly love someone deeply without loving yourself first. As a spiritual person, I tend to focus on my faith and my belief that I want to see others how God sees them, therefore I need to love myself the way God sees me. That has helped me to learn to love others in a much deeper level.
How do you love yourself?
It’s a constant battle for me, and also a daily one. I remind myself who I am and what I’m good at. I focus on my blessings and good qualities. And I remind myself of how God views me.
What is your relationship with God?
This may come off pretentious and I don’t mean for it to be, but I’ve questioned A-LOT of things in my life but I’ve never questioned whether there is a God. There’s been many days in which I couldn’t get out of bed and do anything and I had to rely on something to get through it, and that something was God. Without my belief in him, I wouldn’t be alive.
What’s next for your writing career?
I’m currently working on my third book, which I’m excited about. It’s a sequel to Carry Me Away. After that I’m not sure, but I have a lot of stories in this brain of mine and I hope to be able to write them all someday.