Is Illuminate based angel or other mythology/story if so what drew you to this particular story?
Hi! Thanks for having me! ILLUMINATE is actually an update of one of my favorite books, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, with some extra twists and some angels and devils tossed in. I’ve always loved that story and I just kept thinking: what would you have given your soul for when you were in high school? So I took that premise and I added the extra layer of angels-vs.-devils fantasy.
Why did you choose Chicago and the history of the Chicago Mob as a setting for Illuminate?
I went to college in Chicago and I absolutely fell in love with the city’s history: that whole prohibition era was so exciting and I’ve always been so fascinated by those mysterious tunnels beneath the city that connected the speakeasies. I just always knew it would be the perfect place to set a mystery! I also loved the idea of grounding all the fantasy of my story with little bits of real history.
Illuminate is book is the first in a series, how many books will there be and can you give us a general over view of what we can expect in the next books?
Sure! ILLUMINATE is the first in the Gilded Wings Trilogy. Since my protagonist Haven is an angel-in-training working toward earning her wings, each book will represent one of the three tests she needs to complete in order to get there. I’m polishing up Book Two right now: for Haven’s next test, she and the gang head to New Orleans and….that’s all I’ll say!
You used to write for Us Weekly, did you always write books too? And how was it making the transition from journalistic writing to fiction?
I had such a blast during my years at Us Weekly and still love writing for magazines, but I had always dreamed of writing novels. I’m the daughter of a librarian and I grew up reading everything in sight. I wanted to be a combination of Nancy Drew and Jo from Little Women! Even while I was working in the magazine world, I always wrote short stories in my free time and though none were published, I know that all of that work helped make me a better writer when I sat down to write ILLUMINATE.
As for making the shift to fiction: it really is a change! When you’re used to being reined in by facts and then you get to create this new world, it’s incredibly exciting…and also a little daunting! The freedom can be overwhelming. But I love it!
I saw in your bio that you visit the Smithsonian Museums to get inspiration, whats your favorite museum and what exhibit fascinates you the most?
Oooh, that’s such a good question! I absolutely love museum-hopping and DC is such a great town for that. I’d have to say of all the Smithsonians, my favorite is the Portrait Gallery—I just love writing in the courtyard there, it’s beautiful and I’ve spent so much time there it really feels like home. And there’s this one room at that museum that has two of my favorite angel paintings by Abbott Handerson Thayer. I visit them all the time!