Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Prince George, a small town in Northern Canada, where I did swim team, skied in the winter, water skied in the summer, and read everywhere I went. In fact, I still love to read and walk, and even now, you can see me walking my dog through Prospect Park in Brooklyn, her leash in one hand and a book in the other.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I realized I wanted to be a writer when I was ten. All of my teachers used to say I daydreamed too much and they often yelled at me for not paying attention, but then a very special teacher came along in 5th grade. Mrs. Aalto put me in a group of advanced students and we got to make our own books and bind them ourselves. My book was called The Mystery of the Poison Ivy. It didn't win any awards and it wasn't even particularly good, but Mrs. Aalto inspired me and made me realize that maybe my daydreaming was good for something. From that point on, I'd think up stories in class and then I'd go home to write them down on this old typewriter my mom had bought for me at a garage sale. The steady click of the keys was so much more satisfying than the sound of pencil scratching on a paper, though sometimes I wrote in journals. Starting in 8th grade, I forgot about this dream for awhile because life was really tough for me at this point and I was bullied for being weird. I was just trying to survive. This is probably why I'm so compelled to write about characters in their teens. For the rest of high school, I tried to be "normal" and it wasn't until I went to college that I decided to be me. Now, I tell kids to laugh as loud as they want and be as weird as they like. It's much more fun.
Where did you go to college? What did you study?
I went to the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, and I studied International Relations with a focus on Economics with a minor in English. It may seem strange to you that I didn't take Creative Writing, bu in my teen years, I'd stopped writing, so it took me a while to come back to this dream. After I finished my Bachelor of Arts degree, I went to journalism school at BCIT to be a broadcast journalist. I worked briefly as a radio reporter, but then I decided I wanted to return to my true love of writing fiction. So, to give myself time to write, I taught English as a Second Language, and I found, to my surprise, that I really loved that as well.
How long did it take you to write Trafficked?
I wrote two "practice" novels before "Trafficked". Then, I wrote "Trafficked" while writing another novel. So, after I'd finish a draft of one, I'd start on the other, so that I'd have fresh eyes. The total time to write "Trafficked" was about 8 years, but this includes the time I took to write the other novel. I rewrote "Trafficked" at least 20 times.
Where do you live? Are you married? Do you have kids?
I moved to Korea after I decided not to be a reporter, and started teaching English as a Second Language there. I met my future husband, who was also teaching English at the same school in Korea, and we moved to Los Angeles, where we lived for ten years. This is why "Trafficked" is set in LA. My husband is also a writer and now works on the Tonight Show. He's always encouraged me to go for my dreams, which is why "Trafficked" is dedicated to him. Now we live in Brooklyn, New York, in a neighborhood called Park Slope, with our two daughters.
What is the best thing about being a writer?
I love so many things about being a writer...The elation of being in the zone, of writing exactly what I want to write, and the peaceful feeling afterward. I love hearing from readers that my words have somehow changed their lives. Most of all, I love inspiring others to write because I think when you write, you speak your truth and you gain confidence in real life to be who you really are.
What do you like to do for fun?
I love swimming, going for long runs, doing kundalini yoga, cuddling with my kids and hanging out with friends over a good cup of tea. Besides writing, I love to teach creative writing, yoga and meditation to teens. It makes me so happy to see someone create a piece of writing they didn't know was in them, or to find the peace that yoga and meditation can offer. I love to play board games, go hiking or skiing, or simply stay at home and have an impromptu dance party. I love to dance everywhere, especially in empty elevators and public bathrooms if there's a good song playing. I try not to embarrass my daughters, but sometimes I just can't stop myself from...twirling!
Hugs to you all...and feel free to email me any more questions.