What’s your writing background? When did you begin writing and what inspired you?
I began writing as a child, mostly poetry. Then, in junior high, a couple of neighbourhood friends and my twin sister and I started a writers group and called it “Sisters of the Pen.” Then life got in the way. I married, divorced and raised a son as a single parent. When he started college, I went back too and took a copyediting course. I was a secretary for Pacific Bell, took a buyout so I could try and break into journalism, and started freelancing. I bought a used newspaper-writing textbook and taught myself how to write a news story. I studied articles to see how they were written. A couple months later, I was working as a reporter for a small weekly when I covered a drug bust. I was hooked on crime. I was a crime-beat reporter for the Las Vegas Sun when Tupac Shakur was shot. I stayed on the story and turned it into my first book, The Killing of Tupac Shakur. My eighth book, The Millionaire’s Wife, was released last year. I taught journalism for five years at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and, ironically, the assigned textbook was the same one, only a newer edition, that I’d purchased years earlier to teach myself.
How often do you write? And how do you manage to fit in writing among other commitments?
I write every day. I’m a bit of a workaholic, but I manage to fit in a workout nearly every day at a local gym, or I jog or hike in Red Rock Canyon with my dogs. It clears my head. I’m always juggling projects. I also speak at writers conferences, book festivals and schools. I blog as well, for Psychology Today, and write about evidence and forensics, which is fascinating to me. I approach writing as a task and try and whittle down the projects as I’m writing them, one at a time, to help clear my plate, if that makes sense.
In which genre do you most enjoy writing?
I love crime stories. In high school, I read newspaper stories about real crimes. I thought it would be exciting to be a reporter and follow a story from beginning to end. I’m driven by the stories and the twists and turns. I also was for many years a writer for an animal welfare magazine and was in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. From my four months in the Gulf, I wrote the book Pawprints of Katrina. It, too, was an investigative piece because I followed the dogs, cats, and other animals – even an emu and pot-bellied pigs — from the storm to reunions with their owners or, in many cases, to their new adoptive homes (the emu went to a zoo). I’m passionate about both genres.
What draws you to write in that genre?
I’m attracted to underdogs and giving them a voice. You can’t make up the stuff that happens in the criminal world. At the same time, I’m fascinated by unsolved crimes, including murder of Susan Berman, a mobster’s daughter, and rappers Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls’ cases. It’s an absolute shame that those murders have not been solved, especially Susan’s and Tupac’s, because the evidence, at least from my personal investigation, is there. So I write about those cases and get them out in the public, so readers can make up their own minds.
Can you tell me about your current project(s)?
I’m working on a fictional novella right now that’s being published by Social Media Magazine as a series, one chapter at a time. It’s a crime mystery with lots of twists and turns and involves new media. I’m also working on the Dawn Viens case. She was murdered by her husband, David Viens, in southern California. For four days he slow-cooked her body, after she was dead, in a 55-gallon pot in their restaurant kitchen while patrons ate in the other room (no, he didn’t serve up her remains). That part is grisly, but it’s really a case involving another woman, greed and passion.
What are your writing plans for the future?
I don’t think I’ll ever stop writing. I love what I do. I’ll be relocating this year to the mountains in San Diego County, to a cabin. It’s a lovely environment and a peaceful place to write.
Where can people find out more about you?