Saturday, May 26, 2012



Hello Terri! It is so wonderful to have this opportunity to interview you. It says in your Bio that you have had stories appear in many magazines and newspapers, when did you first realize that writing was something you enjoyed and wanted to do as a career?

I have always loved reading, and was intrigued by the idea of being a writer when I grew up as a child. Of course, I also dreamed of being a detective, a disc jockey and the first woman to play major league baseball. I realized I wanted to write for a living in college. I was in a science writing class and struggled with my assignments for the first few weeks. Then something clicked, and I knew my career path was set.

Tell us about your books and the inspiration behind them. 

With the exception of my novel, most of my books are what I could consider commercial works. I wrote or co-wrote six sports biographies for young adults, as well as two books on photography. Although I'm proud of my non-fiction books, I chose most of the topics mainly because they were what the publisher wanted. With my novel, however, I had the luxury of coming up with my own idea. I came up with the concept for the book during a conversation with a friend, who like me, has always been fascinated by people and what makes them behave the way they do. Kathy told me about a co-worker who had essentially raised her six younger siblings because both of their parents had schizophrenia and suddenly I just knew I had to write this novel.

"Playing the Genetic Lottery" is one of your most recent works. Tell us the inspiration behind it and what it's about. 

My book is a fictional memoir-style novel of a 32-year-old wife and mother who grew up with two schizophrenic parents. Caitlin, my protagonist, has spent more than half her life trying to recover from her tumultuous childhood. While she makes tremendous progress in coming to terms with her upbringing, she remains haunted by one thing. Schizophrenia has a strong genetic component and she is worried she may have passed the disease along to one or both of her children. Although it is in no way autobiographical, I have known a number of individuals with schizophrenia, and I hope my novel helps raise compassion for people who are unfortunate enough to have the disease. 

Who are some of your inspirations both in writing and life?

I live exactly one mile from the beach along the Central California Coast, and I get a lot of inspiration from the shoreline. I love to surf, walk on the beach, hunt for marine fossils, and just look at the water. No matter how many times I've been to the beach, I seem to see something new and different each time I go there. So I guess I'd have to say the ocean is my biggest inspiration.

If you did decide to write a fiction novel, what genre do you think you'd write in and why?

I'm still not sure exactly what genre my novel is in. It doesn't seem to fit any of the traditional categories. I guess it's maybe a cross between contemporary fiction and psychological fiction. If you have any suggestions I'd love to hear them.

If you could choose one person you could meet either dead or alive who would they be and why? 

I'd love to see my husband again. Gary was fighting cancer while I was writing the book, and he passed away shortly after I finished the novel. He was one of the funniest, smartest and insightful people I've ever known.

Tell us a little about your family and life growing up.

I was what they call a Navy brat; my father was in the Navy and he was transferred numerous times during my childhood. I went to 11 different schools between Kindergarten and the end of high school. I found it unsettling to be constantly uprooted. But the one consistent thing throughout my childhood was that we always lived in the coast. That's probably where my love of the ocean stems from.. And there were libraries everywhere, so I could indulge in my love of reading no matter where we ended up. 

Do you allow your friends or family to read and critique your writing before publishing? 

I had a handful of friends read my earlier drafts, and my mother and sister both helped proof read the final version. I also hired a professional editor to go over the book. 

You work with a photographer Shmuel Thaler, tell us a little about them and if you have ever dabbled in photography yourself.

I met Shmuel when we worked together at a small newspaper. He's a tremendously talented photojournalist who studied fine arts in college. It was his idea to do a photography book for young adults, and I was excited when he asked me to work with him on it. I've always loved taking pictures, and occasionally shot illustrations for my newspaper and magazine articles. I learned quite a bit more about photography from Shmuel as we worked on both Take Your Best Shot and Capturing Childhood Memoirs.

Do you have any advice you'd like to share with other authors, or in general that you think would be beneficial to our readers? Also we'd love you to share your links and let us know where we can find out more about you.

The only advice I have for other writers, or people who want to write is to just do it. If you can think and talk, you can write. And the more you do it, the better you'll get at it. I invite anyone who is interested in finding out more about my books or myself to check out my website at 

Thank you again Terri for this wonderful interview. We hope to do this again in the near future! 

Thank you for the opportunity. It's been a lot of fun for me as I love communicating with other writers and readers.

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