1. What inspired you to write Blue? Were there any specific events that led to your writing it?
Interestingly, the thing that inspired me to write Blue was the fact that my oldest child was going away to college and I was worried about losing her. I realized that no one would want to read a novel about this, so I turned everything into a metaphor. My imagination just took over after that.
2. How did you create the fantasy land of Tamarisk? The names you came up with for some of the creatures were interesting, but how did you think of them? I have never heard of a wacasassa before...
Before I started writing, I had a long history as a publisher, and my first serious job in the industry was as running the science fiction and fantasy line for Bantam and founding their Spectra imprint. I have a great deal of affection for the genre, but I often thought the way writers chose names left a good deal to be desired. When I decided to invent a world in Blue one of the first things I decided was that I would have a rational naming convention. Therefore, all of the characters are named after plants that represent them in some way (this is true for all characters, not just the Tamarisk characters), the places are named after explorers, the food is named after accomplished chefs, the trees and plants were named after US national forests, and the wildlife is named after US wildlife preserves. Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park is on the west coast of Florida.
3. Family relationships play into the events of Blue quite a bit. Is family something that is important to you?
Gigantically important, which is why I was so freaked out about my daughter going to college in the first place. Family meals and little traditions are a big part of our lives, and I didn't want to see that go away. As it turns out, I had nothing to fear. It took me so long to write Blue that she's actually finished with college and living nearby. We didn't lose her at all.
4. Becky, Chris, and Miea are amazing, dynamic characters. What was the inspiration for them? Do any of your characters represent people in your own life?
Several people have wondered if Blue is autobiographical. Just about nothing in the novel actually happened to me or anyone I know. However, I do consider it to be an "emotional autobiography" in that I felt or experienced with others most of the emotions that happen in the novel. Similarly, Becky shares many of the characteristics of my oldest daughter, though none of the circumstances, and Chris is very much a mouthpiece for me, though our experiences are very different. Miea is an amalgam of several people.
5. Which of your lovely characters would you say is most like you? Why?
Without question, Chris. Chris is in an endless state of trying to figure things out, and I absolutely share that with him.
6. Did you have a favorite part of Blue that was most fun to write?
The scenes between Becky and Chris after she learns she can travel to Tamarisk were the most fun for me because I loved the way the two of them sparked together. I also had a great time writing the extended scene where Becky goes on her first waccasassa ride, as it allowed me to show a great deal about Tamarisk in a short stretch.
7. If you could travel to another time period, where would you go?
I wouldn't go far because I would miss too much of what we have in the world now. I'm not sure I'd want to be anywhere that didn't have the internet, molecular gastronomy, and The Decemberists for very long. That said, I think I would have loved to have been a young adult in the early sixties. There was so much possibility then, and I think I would have embraced those opportunities.
8. Is there anything else you might like to share about yourself, Blue, or the writing process?
Nothing other than to say that I'm extremely interested in what others think about the themes in Blue. If anyone wants to discuss them with me, they can reach me at email@example.com.