Thank you for this interview! I’d like to know more about you as a person first. What do you do when you’re not writing?
I always joke that I’m a Finance Manager by day, an entrepreneur by mid-afternoon, and an author by night. My neighbor once called me a “professional overachiever.” But I think I live a relatively normal life.
Most of what I do when I’m not writing is hanging out with friends. I live in downtown Portland in a 250-square-foot apartment, but we have this amazing rooftop view that my neighbors and I frequently meet up at. We’ll bring drinks and tell stories. Once, I brought a karaoke machine up there. And it’s amazing because there are people from 18 to 65 just hanging out there with a variety of life experiences and perspectives, from a retired flight engineer to people that are just moving out of their parents houses for the first time. I get a lot of inspiration from that, but it’s also incredibly rejuvenating. When you work 80 hours a week between a business and a day job, those moments are what help keep me going.
When did you start writing?
The odd thing is that I don’t quite remember not writing. I think I attempted to write my first novel when I was 7 (I made it to three chapters). But the thing that comes to mind is this time when I was five when I wrote an incredibly terrible story for a science class about a constellation shaped like a smiley face that made everyone good. Crime stopped and everyone became happy. I was such an optimist back then…
As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?
I think it was my first rejection. I always thought that writing a novel was a huge accomplishment, but it really forced me to think about how hard the publishing industry was.
You write Dystopian Romance! What drew you to this genre in particular?
It’s actually a really crazy story.
I got the idea for The Divinity Bureau when I was 19 years old. At the time, I was in a bit of a rough spot. I became homeless at a really young age. And I remember thinking, “There’s no room for me in this world.” So, I was spending a lot of time at the library because it was warm and Chicago winter nights were cold; this is when “The Hunger Games” was becoming big. And I read a whole bunch of dystopian books to help me cope with the reality of my world at the time.
Was building the world for The Divinity Bureau difficult? What was the easiest part of building this world? What was the hardest?
Once I started asking the question, “What if the world became overpopulated,” world building became easy. But it was hard to not let myself get influenced by modern times. For instance, there’s a reference to a self-driving Mercedes Benz. Will they be around in 100 years? Will they still be called Mercedes Benz? Who knows? The future is always changing, and the only thing I could really do is interpret it to the best of my ability.
If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?
China – preferably one of the cities. The reason why is because they are currently dealing with an overpopulation crisis, and I really want to know what it’s like to be in the middle of it. The downside is that I’d probably end up wanting to rewrite The Divinity Bureau.
If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?
I’d dedicate it to writing The Divinity Bureau’s sequel. While I have a lot of it written, that book has been put on the backburner while I focus on clients and promoting The Divinity Bureau. But I’m really proud of it! Without giving too much away on the ending of The Divinity Bureau, I will say that you get to see April and Roman pulled into two different directions. Roman just wants to live a normal life, while April wants to make a difference in the world. You’d think that conflict ends in The Divinity Bureau, but it doesn’t.
Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?
I’ve always wanted to see an “Outlander” type story set during the age of the Incans. I would love to see a fictional story set in Machu Picchu.
In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?
Not necessarily traveled anywhere for this book, but I was working on a draft of “The Divinity Bureau” while I was backpacking Europe. I got to finish one edit in Edinburgh across the street from the Elephant Café (I tried going to the Elephant Café to finish writing, but it was too crowded).
Why was writing The Divinity Bureau so important to you?
So, as I mentioned earlier, I was homeless at a young age. I actually worked on writing this book for four years. A lot of it was written when I was homeless, but I didn’t have time to dedicate to writing it full-time. I had to work full-time and go to school full-time. And there were long periods of time where I’d put it on pause and revisit it. During those four years, I started working my way up in my career; and eventually, I was promoted to a Finance Manager by the age of 23.
The thing is, there were moments where I felt a lot of disconnect between the foster kid that lived in my car and the young professional that I was trying to be, so I attended a lot of protests in an attempt to make a difference in the world.
The reason why it’s important to me is because I started writing more about the bureaucratic parts of The Divinity Bureau after I was exposed to the business world. And when I started editing the parts that I had written while homeless, I realized how much my perspective on the world had changed. The book often represents two parts of my life, and it wouldn’t be the same without those experiences.
Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?
I get them through reflecting and journaling. The thing is, with my history, I often feel like I have two people living inside of me: one is this confident entrepreneur and business woman, while the other is still this scared lonely kid that didn’t have any family. Sometimes, I get hit with a lot of feelings, and the only way I can deal with it is if I write it down. But a lot of times, those raw moments are the gems that give me the inspiration I need.
What are you currently working on? Do you have any new projects released in the coming months? If so, tell us about them.
The Divinity Bureau is coming out on September 21st. I’m really proud of it! If you like “The Hunger Games” and “Romeo and Juliet,” I think you’ll really enjoy it. It’s about a dystopian romance about a forbidden love between a young activist and a government employee for a corrupt bureau that decides who lives and who dies.
I’m primarily focused on promoting the work of my clients for the upcoming months. My business, Asset Creative House, just signed two authors. One is a book about the undead rising in the Victorian era, and the other is a story about the friendship between a woman recovering from a brutal gangrape and a call girl. I’ll also be working on the sequel in the coming year or so. It’ll be busy, but I’m really excited for what the future brings!
This or That
Q: Coffee or Soda? Coffee. To take it a step further, I once had to choose between my coffee maker and a microwave, due to lack of counter space. To this day, I still don’t have a microwave.
Q: Sausage or Bacon? Sausage (pigs are cute…)
Q: Exercise in a gym or at home? Gym
Q: Winter or Summer? Summer. I have a five degree comfortable temperature range, so my mind changes on this all the time.
Q: One long vacation or several short mini vacations? Several short mini vacations. I read a study that this is actually better for your mental health (something about the anticipation being the best part of a vacation…).