Q: How did you get started writing?

I have always loved writing. When I was a teenager, writing helped me come in touch with my emotions. I wrote poetry mostly, but I also loved writing essays for history and social studies. I put aside my writing to raise seven children, but picked it up again in 2010. I had always wanted to write a novel, and my first attempt started off well, but I got lost. So, I set it down (I think it’s still in a drawer somewhere) and started taking classes, workshops and attended conferences to learn all I could about creating a story. During that time I set my paint brush temporarily aside to work on becoming a wordsmith. And then Deception Peak, the first book to Ian’s Realm, came into being.

Q: What made you decide to write in the genre you chose?

I have always been a lover of fantasy and there didn’t seem to be an option but to write the genre. Even when writing romance or mystery, I find it hard not to slip some magic into my stories.

Q: What are some of the steps you take to ready yourself to write?

I really need quiet. Very early in the morning or late at night gives me the space I need to get ready to write. If I’m in the middle of a book I read over my outline or the story. But mostly I need to have the scene in my head. One thing I like to do when I’m getting ready to end a writing session, I end in the middle of a chapter so it’s easier to pick up where I left off. Nothing worse than trying to start off with another blank page.

Q: Do you have any hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time?

I paint portraits. Lately I’ve been doing very complicated 3000 piece puzzles. For some reason it seems to get the knots out of my head and I find it easier to get back to my writing after a while.

Q: What is your all-time favorite book? Movie?

That’s so hard but one movie I absolutely love is Ever After. As far as books go, there are so many that I’ve enjoyed. The Shattered Seas series by Joe Abercrombie, Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, anything by Brandon Sanderson especially Mistborn.

Q: When you read for yourself, what is your favorite genre?

Whereas I usually look for fantasy, I can enjoy any genre if the book has compelling characters, especially characters I care about. I kept reading Wheel of Time because I wanted Rand to overcome all the obstacles thrown at him. I also found characters in James Michener’s books to root for. One thing I don’t care for are books written about the here and now in the city. I’m just not a lover of urban settings. I want to go somewhere else when I’m reading.

Q: For what are you grateful?

My home, my husband, my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I’ve had a wild early years, experienced a lot of tragedy and hardship, but I’ve been “taken out of Egypt” so to speak and am blessed now and I’m really thankful for what God has given me later in life.

Q: If you could go back in time to when you were seven years old, what wisdom or advice would you pass on to yourself?

Pursue an English major or get into cinematography. I grew up around Hollywood. I was in a perfect place to learn, and I love being on set. I know that’s pretty young to give that advice, but if I could put it in my head then and forget trying to be an artist because there isn’t much future in that…not in the years I grew up I think I would have kept at my studies and actually started a career much earlier.

Q: At what age were you the happiest? What triggered such joy?

Now. There’s something about being in the golden years that truly earns its name. You can be at peace with yourself when you get to be this age.

Q: How can our readers connect with you?

I have a website https://gardnersart.com that has everything about my work and a link to my art site.