I was born and raised in New Jersey, but I managed to escape. Until recently, my husband and I lived in Istanbul with our three kids. We returned to the U.S. (New Hampshire) in December, 2008. I enjoy traveling, reading, writing, photography, drawing, movies, and fighting crime with my amazing superpowers.
I have a Ph.D. (as well as a Master's) in Social-Developmental Psychology from Rutgers University. My research has looked at the impact of religious beliefs on mental health and illness throughout the lifespan, and I have specialized in developmental psychology, social psychology, abnormal psychology, and psychology of religion. My B.A. is from Yale University, and it is also in psychology.
I have been teaching at the college level since 1995, including courses for Rutgers University, UMUC's Overseas Program (in Germany, Turkey, and Belgium), American University, Marymount University, Johns Hopkins University, and Trinity College. I have been part of UMUC's Distance Education program since 1999, although I took a "breeding sabbatical" in May 2005. I returned to teaching part-time in 2009.
From the author's website.
You can read my review of Minder here.
What inspired you to write Minder?
Minder started as a thought experiment. Most books with a telepathic character give them a love interest whom he or she can't read. I started thinking about the kind of person a telepath could fall in love with. What kind of person would choose to be in a romantic relationship with someone who knew their every thought? That expanded into all of the practical aspects of special abilities. What kind of housing would pyrokinetics have? What happens to telekinetics when they go to sleep? How would high school students with mind control abilities interact? Before I knew it, I had Ganzfield.
Which ability would you rather have – Charm, Pyrokinetic, Telepath, Remote Viewer, Healer or Telekinetic? Why?
Great question! I have three preschoolers, so having the mind-control abilities of a charm would be quite useful right about now. Although, if I could remote view, I'd know where they put my glasses.
Why is telekinesis such a rare ability?
It's rare in the Ganzfield world because of the genetics involved. Not to give any spoilers, but Trevor's not the only one in the series.
How did you decide what color to assign each emotion? What inspired you to include this aspect in the story?
All of the colors were intuitive choices for me--I simply pondered the emotion and went with the color I "felt." I've had kinesthetic experiences all my life--for example, numbers have colors associated with them in my mind (1=white, 2-yellow, 3=red, 4=blue, etc.). It's just part of how some people process sensory input--there's an overlap between two senses. Some people associate sounds with colors, etc. It's like watching Fantasia...all the time.
How do you feel about Maddie’s vigilante tendencies?
I developed Maddie's character to be realistic, and that means she doesn't always do the most moral thing. When she realizes that regular rules don't apply and that she has the ability to change situations, she takes action. She'll deal with some of the consequences of her actions throughout the series, though.
Who is your favorite character outside of Maddie and Trevor? Why are they special to you?
I adore Drew; he cracks me up. He's a friendly teddy bear of a guy who can burn down a house with a thought.
*SMALL SPOILER ALERT* (Highlight the black area to read this question and answer) How did you develop the idea of “soulmating?”
Actually, it came out of two places. One is the old saying that sex is 90% mental--which I took to an extreme in the book. The second is a parable in the about a widow who remarries, and the questioner asks whose wife she'd be in Heaven. The reply is that in Heaven we are "like the angels."
What was your favorite scene to write? Why?
I loved writing every scene from the time Maddie arrives at Ganzfield, but one that stands out is Maddie and Trevor first conversation in the church. It goes back to the original idea--what kind of person would a telepath love, and who would love a telepath?
What, if any, influence did your teaching career have on Minder and its school environment?
My background in psychology influenced a lot of the book, but I created the school based on the logical needs of educating an isolated group of "special" teenagers who were expected to integrate back into mainstream society. The Ganzfield facility is based on a real location near North Conway, NH, but it's not a secret training facility for G-positives...as far as I know.
What was your biggest challenge in writing this novel?
Without a doubt, writing the opening chapter was the biggest challenge for me. I had to realistically portray a terrifying experience from inside the head of the intended victim. I still get shaky hands when I read it.
What message do you hope readers take away from Minder?
I hope that the story and the characters stay with them, and that the themes of strength in adversity and the healing power of love come through.
What is your opinion on book to film adaptations? Would you like to see Minder made into a movie? Who would you cast in the main roles?
Actually, my brother is a screenwriter, and we've been discussing co-writing the screenplay. I think it could be an incredible movie. If I had my say, though, the main characters (Maddie, Trevor, Drew, Hannah, and Rachel) would be talented unknowns, preferably still in their teens. Since I've had at least three readers say that they picture Dr. Williamson like the Chief from , James Pickens (who plays Dr. Richard Weber) would be a great choice.
How did your interest in writing develop?
I've been an insatiable reader since grade school. I started doing some creative writing in high school and college, but side-tracked into my academic career. However, five years ago I became a stay-at-home mom, and writing became a way to keep my mind working above a preschool level.
What are your favorite books? What about them appeals to you?
I have a huge list. Some of the top contenders would have to be:ENDER'S GAME (Orson Scott Card): Card creates an original world and a sympathetic character who isn't "good."HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY (): This is simply the funniest novel ever written.The HARRY POTTER series ( ): I'm pretty sure Rowling must be a witch to such enchanting work.JANE EYRE (Charlotte Bronte) and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (Jane Austen): These classic love stories have surprisingly vibrant female main characters for their day.
What authors have inspired you? What about them do you find inspirational?
I think is a great example. He's a talented writer who defies categorization in a single genre, and he also helps other writers develop their craft.
What is a random fact that readers probably don’t know about you?
I had a blast in college because I joined the marching band--despite the fact that I didn't play a musical instrument at the time.
Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring authors?
Writers have such vivid images of their stories in their heads--they don't actually know what comes through from the paper. Let people tell you. Get feedback from other writers and from people in your target audience. Accept their critiques gracefully and use them to make your work stronger.
What can you tell us about the upcoming installments of the Ganzfield series?
Adversary (Book 2) comes out , and it picks up a couple of months after the end of Minder. Legacy (Book 3) will be released in . I'm in revisions on Book 4 now, but I hope it will be accepted for publication in the next couple of months and come out in the second half of 2011. I currently have notes for the fifth and sixth books--and ideas for a seventh.
Do you have any books in the works that aren’t a part of the Ganzfield series?
My first novel, Bagastana, is the story of two suburban kids trying to get back from the alternate reality that inspired most of our world's mythology. I also have notes for a novel set at Yale, in which the main character sees ghosts--including the one trapped inside the statue of Nathan Hale.
Many thanks to Kate Kaynak for being a guest on The Bookish Type!
Kate has kindly offered a Minder t-shirt to one lucky commenter! After reading the book, I love this cover art even more because of its relevance.
Simply leave a comment on this post by midnight EST on August 4! Don't forget to include your email address so I can contact you for your shipping info and shirt size if you win! To get an extra entry, comment on my review of Minder (be sure to tell me in your entry that you commented on the review)!