1. What or who inspired you to start writing?
I wanted a more meaningful life. At my father's funeral in England, I began to tell stories to my little nephews, and decided to revive my long standing interest in becoming a writer.
2. How did you come up with ideas for your books?
I choose subjects that interest me. At first, I explored childhood issues from my upbringing, hoping to help kids. Later, I explored various genres, and picked themes I want to learn about.
3. Have you ever written a historical book before? If not, can tell us a little about why you wrote this one?
All of my books have an element of history in them, but Unexpected Journey is my first full length historical novel. It began as a story about a girl leaving her country, and was a takeoff of the Gilgamesh Epic, with a female heroine. I wanted to demonstrate the growth of a girl from a "pleaser" into someone quite able to make her own decisions without needed to meet anyone else's expectations.
4. Do you ever watch historical shows on TV? Yes. I love a lot of the BBC series set around WW II.
5. I think my favorite time in American history revolves around the War Between the States. What is your favorite time period.
I love colonial times, and am interested in the War Between the States too, which I hope to write about too.
6. If your favorite character in your book came into your home, what would he/she think?
Anna would be blown away by the electric lights, the spaciousness (although by our standards my house is modest), soft carpets on the floor, bathrooms with flush toilets. She'd probably not show it though.
7. What expertise did you bring to your writing?
Willingness to experiment, rewrite, learn, and keep on trying.
8. What would you want your readers to know about you that might not be in your bio?
All of my novels tend to have horses in them somewhere because I adore horses and used to keep three beauties. One was an Arabian/Appy. I trained him myself. I nick-named him Rocket. He was very fine and a lot of fun. It was the fulfillment of a girlhood dream to own and train this fine animal.
9. As far as your writing goes, what are your future plans?
I am writing away, all sorts of things. I hope to write a sequel to Unexpected Journey, following the life of Mystery Mudge, the baby Anna took in. I will explore what happened to Rachel, Gishuk, and Anna in this story.
10. If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?
I love Anna, but wouldn't want to experience her upbringing or early days, so I'll have to say Gishuk because he is such a free spirit too.
11. Do you belong to a critique group? If so how does this help or hinder your writing?
Not any more. I meet with a friend and share work with her. She is in synch with me, an expert writer and educator, who always asks me discerning questions that help me take the writing to new levels.
12. When did you first decide to submit your work? Please tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step?
I was inspired by hope, and hearing the words of Joseph Campbell: Follow Your Bliss!
13. What is the best and worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)
Some good advice was from a well-published children's author who said write little things, send letters to the newspaper, get your words into print in church newsletters, anywhere, because that helps stimulate more words and gives validation.
14. Do you outline your books or just start writing?
Sometimes. Usually, I've thought a lot about what I plan to write, and done research before I begin. I like to know where I'm going with a story, but sometimes my characters take me to new places with new endings I didn't expect.
15. Do you have any hobbies and does the knowledge you've gained from these carry over into your characters or the plot of your books?
My love of horses is one thing that carries over into my books. My work with spirituality, too, informs much of what I write. It's become foundational.
16. Do you have an all time favorite book?
I really don't, but I recently read Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy by Lisa See, which are historical, about another culture, and absolutely amazing reads. I learned so much, not only about the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and Chinese immigration, but also writerly things such as strong characteriazation and a sense of place, and the importance of every sentence contributing to the movement of the story.
17. Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your book?
I've got three projects going: one is a sequel to my fantasy novel, Emily's Shadow. It's now a draft that will need to be revised before I send it to the editor. Another is a novel I am working on with my niece and is a contemporary story. The last one is called Ziggy, A Little Book of Healing, and is about the loss of my dog and how he was a recipient of a miracle of healing.
18. What is your favorite reality show? I love Gordon Ramsey in Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares.
19. Who is your favorite sexy actor?
Well, it's not Gordon Ramsey.
20. Anything else you might want to add?
It's been a pleasure to work with RoguePhoenixPress and I look forward to our continued association.
Anna intrigues me because I think I am like her in some ways, wanting to measure up:
Those days are over. Thank God no one knows, not even Rachel. … Anna's shoulders sag. How she wants to be like Rachel, to learn fine manners, to be poised, to have delicate hands that can play music, to have people love her. She doesn't want to be a servant forever, even though that is better than what she'd been before. She wants to be as good as any of the Quakers with whom she is now associated. When she tries, she talks better, and she can read and write a little, but she wonders how she can ever match up to Quaker standards?
Unexpected Journey by Christina St. Clair
In a dream, Gishuk saw the image of a shewanakw girl with skin as white as the blackberry flowers in spring. Her hair, glowing like the color of autumn leaves, tumbled down her back. Though still asleep, he heard the dogs howling outside, their cries rising balefully into the night. He stared at the floating image in his mind. Upon awakening, the girl's strange face remained etched into his psyche.
For a while he lay on his straw mat, looking at the bark ceiling. Had this girl somehow disturbed the dogs? But this made no sense. She was merely a phantom in a dream. Still, something was not quite right. The starless night contained not even a sliver of moon to make the dogs howl. A steady rainfall, smelling of leaves and earth, fell from the pitch black sky, pattering onto the thatch roof of his parents' house. It lulled him back to sleep where the shewanakw girl still hovered in his dreams. She seemed so innocent, but even in his sleep, anger and confusion arose in him. What right did any shewanakw have to appear to him when they had caused so much trouble to his people?
At daybreak, he soon forgot the dream, listening for the song of Tàskëmus who always got up first to take his bath alone in the pond in the center of the village. Gishuk loved Tàskëmus who was his great-uncle as well as the village medicine man. He sang like his namesake, the mockingbird, able to imitate many sounds. Often he tapped like a woodpecker seven times because this was a number from the heavens. Usually women were the ones called by the Great Spirit to become healers, but Tàskëmus laughed at such an idea and made Gishuk his apprentice. Yet this did not stop other boys in the village from making fun of Gishuk, especially that weasel Sàngwe. This eldest son of the village sachem acted as if he ought to be the chief. Gishuk also suspected Sàngwe of jealousy because he, Gishuk, was Grandmother's favorite. She'd even given him his secret spirit name.
Gishuk rolled quietly from his mat and crawled past his brother Tëme, who snorted but did not attempt to get up. As Gishuk crept by his parents, Kèkw smiled dreamily, snuggling closer to her husband, Tihtës, and pulling the turkey-feather blanket over their shoulders to keep out the damp. Outside, Gishuk watched his great-uncle swim steadily through the water, his muscular arms rising and falling with hardly a splash. At last he scrambled onto the shore near the Big House, allowing the water to drip from his body. He stretched his hands out palms-up to greet the day and began to chant.
As each of Gishuk's summers passed, he realized he was very different from the others. He saw visions of things to come, but no longer told anyone, because often his predictions were only half-true. Tàskëmus told him this ability was a gift from Nenabush, but his visionary skills needed to be more fully developed. Gishuk heard the woods sing and understood all the animals, from moles to bears. Herbs, roots and flowers comforted him. They did not strike him with their fists or hurt him with their words. Yet deep inside he wished he could join in pahsahëman, the ball game everyone in the village loved to play. He wished he might rough and tumble like other boys, but sports never interested him.
Gishuk, copying his great uncle, held out his hands. "Wëli kishku," he said. "It is a good day." He admired the sky. The dome reminded him of Grandfather--faraway and yet sometimes as close as a low-hanging cloud on a mountain, kissing the tops of the trees. A tëmakwe swam out of its dam-house, slapped its tail, made a wild splash, and dove beneath the surface. Tàskëmus, across the pond from Gishuk, grinned at him before intoning musical notes that felt as if they were rising and falling within Gishuk's body.
Browndog, one of the village animals Gishuk sometimes took with him into the woods while he gathered herbs, jutted his cold nose against Gishuk's knee. Gishuk scratched the creature's head. "You are quiet now," Gishuk said, remembering the night-cries of the hounds. Something inside his stomach seemed to claw at him. Overwhelming sadness filled him. For a moment the dreamgirl's face flashed in front of him, but he quickly pushed her image away. She was not one of his people. He didn't even know if she was real. Perhaps he would tell Tàskëmus about her, but not now.