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Most Read Interviews

All TopShelf Interviews


1. Congratulations on your recent release in September of A Single Light, the sequel to The Line Between. Did the release of this second part to your Medical Thriller series go as you expected? Did it bring any new surprises? 

Every book release has surprises of some kind or another! For A Single Light, I threw a book launch party at my local indie store. We had wine, cheese, sweets, and prizes for all those who could make it—friends, longtime fans, and readers new to my books. The place was packed to the gills! It was fabulous.
The other big surprise for me is how hard it’s been to leave this main character, Wynter Roth, behind. I so enjoyed her journey.

2. Both The Line Between and A Single Light open with your heroine, Wynter Roth, being sequestered within walls she can’t leave… until she does. And in each book, she discovers secrets about herself and others close to her that change her entire worldview, even in two vastly different worlds. Were these parallels intentional, did they emerge organically, or was it a little bit of both?

It’s always a little bit of both for me. I like to bring stories full circle with a twist—and many turns along the way—as the main character discovers her true identity.

3. Wynter’s characterization in A Single Light focuses less on her identifying and overcoming her own demons (as in The Line Between) and more on her redeveloping the kind of person she wants to be in a world where people have been stripped down to nothing but survival mode. How much of this reinventing, if any, was drawn from your own personal life? How much of it came from outside sources and research?

I’ve never had to live in daily survival mode, but every major life change we go through—independence, job changes, marriage, divorce, parenthood, empty nest, the death of a loved one—requires some reinvention and a certain about of introspection about what to let go of from the old life and what to keep. I’ve definitely had my fair share of hanging-on-by-the-fingernails days.

4. You put a lot of time into researching the catalyst for this rapid early onset dementia sweeping across the US and the world in A Single Light. Beyond the scientific and medical elements, this book incorporates a little bit of every type of person, all thrust together under this doomsday scenario—from preppers and military personnel to cult survivors, doctors, thugs, and tragically poignant, hopeful characters like Otto. Were any of these people modeled after someone you know? Or were they the product of hours of research as well?

Actually, neither one. While I do on occasion borrow the random characteristic of someone I know, I usually just let the characters show up organically. I knew I needed someone like Otto to come along when he did, though didn’t know what a sweet, funny, and lovable young man he would be, or that he would be mute. But when it came time, there he was, with his innocence and silent, snarky wit.

5. Wynter transforms from being the last person who would ever consider touching a gun to a determined, headstrong woman who does everything necessary in order to save and protect the people she loves—including handling lots of guns and a few explosives. This character growth also parallels her struggle with mental illness—both as someone with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and definitely with some Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after living in the Enclave for fifteen years. What do you hope readers would see in Wynter’s transformation and take away from it for themselves?

Just that heroes come in all forms. And that those of us who often feel broken—I, like Wynter, have OCD—are often stronger than we know. That those things we think of as our weaknesses inform our particular form of genius and unique lens on the world. It’s been a real privilege to get to write characters who deal with mental illness, and to even speak about it on occasion—most recently at the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention.

6. Obviously, we haven’t lived through these doomsday scenarios—yet (your acknowledgments at the end of A Single Light were written during the aftermath of a “bomb cyclone” having hit Nebraska, which you mentioned had eerie parallels to certain scenes in the book). Has writing these books changed the way you look at “being prepared” for any eventuality, from natural disasters to pandemics and everything in between?

I’ve always been a little fascinated with “prepping” and survival stories. But if anything, I’d say marrying a farmer who hunts, fishes, and can pretty much fix anything has made me consider that, should doomsday strike, my chances are vastly improved. :D!


7. Wynter is a fairly young woman in these books—just twenty-two years old. She has never had an intimate relationship before she meets Chase and has no children of her own, yet the risks she takes for her niece Truly and her stand-in aunt Julie are propelled by as much love for them as anyone would have for their own flesh and blood. How much of this storyline, if any, was influenced by the idea of “chosen family versus blood relations”?

That’s a really good question. I think a big influence on this idea of chosen family was marriage to my husband—a formerly single father. Almost four years ago, I gained four kids in the space of “I do.” I also have a former ballet coach whom I affectionately refer to as an extra parent, so in one sense, my own family is comprised as much of chosen family as of my blood relations.
For Wynter, who ended up at the cult enclave to escape an abusive father and has since lost her mother and then her sister, her only remaining family is her niece. So aside from Truly, it’s all chosen family for her.


8. There is a lot of devastation, high-intensity action, and emotionally gripping, powerfully tragic events in A Single Light. Beyond this being a Medical Thriller and a speculative doomsday account, what do you hope readers take away from the darkness in these “end times” and Wynter’s fight to keep that “single light” alive?

Well, first and foremost, a good, healthy escape. Because let’s face it; that’s what we love about fiction. But beyond that, the courage to seek out hope in even the darkest situations—or to be that light to others. I truly believe a single kind word or good deed is enough to save the world a moment at a time.