Thank you for taking the time to answer yet more questions about your work.
1.) What initiated this particular burst of creativity?
I was at the Metropolitan Musuem in NY, re-vsiting one of favorite spots. The Mastaba Tomb of Perneb - a tiny bit of Fifth Dynasty Egypt transplanted to Manhattan, a gift from Edward S. Harkness to the museum in 1913.
I was in the second ritual chamber. The space is very small and only three or four people can fit at the same time. I was lucky to be in the intimate ritual chamber alone and looking through the slot in the wall at a wooden statue of Perneb in the room beyond known as a serdab. In ancient times this passageway allowed for family and priests to offer up incense and chants to the deceased.
I heard footsteps. A little girl about seven or eight had entered and came up beside me to look through the slot. She had long blonde hair and was wearing a school uniform. I watched her examine the space, giving every section careful attention.
“It hasn’t changed much at all,” she said finally in a wistful voice.
I asked her what she meant.
“Since the last time I was here,” she said.
Something about the way she said it made me curious. “When was that?” I asked.
“When I lived in Egypt.”
“You know this tomb has been on display in this museum since 1916.” I said.
“I lived in Egypt way before that,” she said and smiled. She was about to say something else when from outside the chamber an older woman’s voice called out.
“Veronica, it’s time to go. Now. Please.”
The little girl ran off, quickly, without looking back, without giving me a chance to ask her anything else.
Even though I write about reincarnation, I haven’t had any meaningful reincarnation episodes of my own. I don’t get visitations. I’ve never seen a ghost. But I’m not sure what happened that afternoon.
I can picture Veronica in her navy jumper and white blouse that had a dark smudge on the collar. She had a one-inch scratch on her left hand. Her hair was pulled off her face with a silver barrette. A lot of curls had escaped. She had a child’s voice but it was so charged with adult emotion.
It was that emotion which sparked the idea for my novel, And the paintings and sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum that fueled it.
If you go the Met, please go visit Perneb’s tomb. And if you see a little girl there with long blonde hair and a blue school uniform… ask her if her name is Veronica… and if it is, thank her for me.
2.) You seem to have the ability to combine facets of the occult with mystery, do you believe in reincarnation yourself or is it just a literary strategy?
I started off not not believing when I wrote The Reincarnationist. But now I do believe.
3.) What do you like the most about writing?
Disappearing from this world into the strange odd place that exists where stories live.
4.) Where do your new story ideas come from?
It feels like them come from the ether… but I read a lot and look a lot and the ideas seems to sprout from odd little facts or from images that strike me and stick with me.
5.) What advice has helped the most in your writing?
Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.
6.) You have a wealth of successful books; do you have something new in the works?
I’m always two books ahead… I have to have lots of ideas … I live in fear of having to be in the world without a fictional place to escape to.
7.) Who is your favorite author and why?
This is always the hardest question. There are so many.
As I write this – Frances Hodgson Burnett and her book The Secret Garden is one.
It was one of the first novels that made me think about writing a book myself even though I was very young. My mother had been reading The Secret Garden to me one night when I stopped her and asked her if we could go to see the garden in the book the next day.
She explained it was made up.
Even though I knew about make believe at that point, I'd never before connected the concept to books. I was enthralled.
My mother later told me that I declared that night that when I grew up I was going to write books about discovering a secret garden.
In a way I do that now, as an author, because isn't writing mystery or suspense novel very much like uncovering gardens that have been hidden and secreted away?
8.) What advice would you give for the want to be writer?
Write because you love writing. Make it about the process not the result or the benefits - Very few authors make a living doing this – but if you love the writing itself you can have a wonderful life.
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my questions. I appreciate it and I am sure my readers and your readers are delighted to get your insights. Best of luck on your new book(s).