When books mirror life

BD's bathroom redoI have a childhood friend, living far away now, who swears she knows what’s going on in my life from my newest book. She is certainly right where Blueprints is concerned.  During the early months of the writing, in real life I was gutting and redoing the bathroom off my bedroom – totally fitting when the main characters of the book specialize in gut-and-redos.

Did one bring the other about? Not really. My husband and I were planning on redoing our bathroom, and the timing just matched. Not that I minded. Not that I mightn’t have even given it a push. When I’m in writing mode, which is a round-the-clock thing, overlap is good.


Just finished my next book! I’ve been working on this baby for more than a year, and that doesn’t count the months before I started the actual writing, when I focused on research. This book – no title yet – demanded a lot of research. I had to learn about the tools a carpenter would keep in her truck, the type of projects she would do, which ones she would like and which ones not, what her hands would look like at the end of the day. I had to learn about an architect’s road to licensure, what her office would look like, and how she might approach a project. I had to learn how a locally-produced, home-renovation tv show might be taped, the prep work that would go into it, and the people who would be on the set. I’m clearly summarizing it for you, but you get my drift.

Where SWEET SALT AIR came from

Most of my books are inspired by things I read about in the newspaper. The inspiration for Sweet Salt Air was much more personal.  I have three sons, all of whom have recently had children, and when each of those babies was born, its umbilical cord blood was harvested, frozen, and stored. The premise is that cutting edge medicine is starting to use the stem cells harvested from such blood, and the closer those stem cells match to the DNA of the recipient, the better.

Naming the characters in my next book


You’ve heard of Dennis Lehane, right?  Since he’s a home town boy, my local press is all over him.  So I wasn’t surprised to hear tv reports that his dog, Tessa (yup, that’s her pictured above), had disappeared on Christmas Eve and that he was offering to name a character in his next book after whoever gave him information leading to its return.

This isn’t a new concept.  I’ve often auctioned off naming rights to the highest bidder at charity auctions.  But that isn’t how I choose most of my names.

How to research a novel

In theory, since a novel is make-believe, the idea of doing research is oxymoronic.  Isn’t it?

No.  I don’t think so either.  I’ve always done research.  Part of the appeal of my books is that readers buy into the story, so it has to be real.

It used to be that real came from the library.  I loved working there.  It got me out of the house, for one thing.  For another, I find the smell of old books both comfort and inspiration.  There’s nothing like endless rows of library stacks to make a girl feel like she’s joining an honorable profession.