What inspired you to write The Nashville Series?
Writing fiction has always been my first love, but several years ago, I decided I wanted to learn how to write lyrics. I had fallen in love with country music because of the way the songs so often tell a story. So I started going to Nashville, taking classes, and eventually meeting other writers I went on to co-write with. I loved everything about the Nashville songwriting community. I don’t think I’ve ever met a more generous group of artistic people. At some point, my fiction writing brain took over again, and a story started to ask to be written.
Are your main characters - CeCe, Holden and Thomas - inspired by people in your life?
The characters of CeCe, Holden and Thomas have become real to me, maybe because they embody many of the qualities I loved about so many of the people I met in Nashville. They each have the dream of making music their life’s work, and they go after it heart and soul.
Your love of dogs is evident in your books. Are you involved with rescue dogs?
Hank Junior, CeCe’s Walker hound, is inspired by my dog Roscoe. He was left at our local pound as a young dog, and his life was about to be ended when I got him out. He all but talks and is one of the loves of my life. I became involved with rescue, fostering many dogs and helping to get the first No-Kill Adoption Center in our county built.
Where do you get your inspiration for your novels?
In people, I think. I’m always fascinated by people’s stories. Mostly in what’s made them who they are. I believe that we’reshaped by our experiences in life, the things that happen to us, good and bad.
Do you have a routine or special place you like to write?
I’ve pretty much taught myself to write anywhere. Starbucks, in the car(as a passenger!), outside. But I do commit myself to writing 2500 words a day at least five days a week. That’s a comfortable pace for me and makes me feel productive.
Do you read your reviews? How do you handle the bad ones?
It’s always painful when someone thinks your baby is ugly, but I don’t let myself take it personally anymore. It’s far more rewarding to focus on the positive, and I try to apply that principle to my life in general.
Name three writers who have inspired you.
Anita Shreve, LaVyrle Spencer, Evelyn Waugh.
What advice do you give to other writers looking to publish?
Read, read, read. When we’re reading, we absorb pieces of why a story worked or why it didn’t. We develop an understanding of what makes a good read. I think it’s good to read widely from different genres. I also recommend keeping a journal. Journaling helps us develop our voice, our writer’s fingerprint.
For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
I still very much enjoy both. I buy more ebooks, but still love hardcovers. I also like listening to audibooks, especially with the Kindle whisper-sync feature where you can go back and forth between the ebook and the audio.
What book or books do you wish you could have written?
Beverly Cleary’s Ramona and Beezus series.
If you could cast your characters in a movie version of your book, who would play your characters?
That’s a fun thought! CeCe, Keira Knightley. Holden, Alan Powell. And Thomas, Kellan Lutz.
What is your favorite part of the writing process?
Starting a story with a couple of characters and seeing where it takes me. I love reading back over what I wrote the previous day and feeling that jolt of surprise that it’s starting to come together.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I wrote my first story when I was nine on my mom’s manual typewriter. It was about a pony named Sunny, and my mom thought it was great!
Why do you write?
I think my reason would have to be the same as most writers. I love the thought of trying to create a story that makes a reader feel the way my favorite stories have made me feel.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Knowing when to let a book go. Believing that it’s good enough.
What’s next for CeCe, Holden and Thomas?
More adventures along their Nashville journey!
Blue for Stein