First of all, tell us a bit about yourself and what you write. (Feel free to include any links to Amazon or to your blog/social media sites.)
FG: I’m February Grace, and I’m from Michigan, where it is cold more of the time than I would like. I write mostly romances of the fantasy persuasion; and have just published my fifth novel with Booktrope, a dark, time-travel fantasy/romance called WISHING CROSS STATION. Its official release date is June 2nd: it can be found on Amazon in eBook and print, as an eBook for Nook, with print from BN and eBook from iTunes to follow.
All the information you could want about my books is available on my blog, Love Letters from Jupiter, which can be found at www.februarywriter.blogspot.com You can also always find me on Twitter @februarygrace .
Who or what first inspired you to become an author?
FG: I’ve been asked this question several times lately, and it finally dawned on me the real answer is that being an early reader (before the age of three) is really what inspired me to become an author.
My Grandmother and I were very close, and she taught me to read by first using a book called Mickey Mouse’s Picnic (which I still have, tattered though it is.) I naturally went from there and took to the idea of creating adventures for my favorite toys before I could write them down.
Then in the fourth grade I was assigned to watch clips of fairy tales on the projector in the library (a great privilege to be trusted with it alone!) and then rewrite the endings. After that I was always writing something, be it poetry, sci-fi stories inspired by those that fascinated me like Star Wars did, or teenage romances full of angst and tears.
Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre was the book that made me fall in love with the art of language, though. I was fifteen when I first read it, and it just swept me away. Tennyson’s poetry inspired me as well, and also such diverse and different voices such as sci-fi genius Douglas Adams.
Inspiration came from lots of places but always led me back to one thing: words.
Do you do a lot of research in your writing? What was the most unusual thing you have come across in your research?
FG: Since most of my books are fantasy books, I didn’t have to do a lot of research because I was building my own mythology. The new book, though, was a different story; and I took a day trip last fall in which I researched details about trains, railroads of the 1800s and how the Stationmaster and his family would have lived by visiting a local historical theme park that is considered to be one of the best in the country.
I took hundreds of photographs, I took video of the sound of the actual, running 1880’s steam engine to remember what it sounded like. I rode the train and breathed deeply of the amazing aroma of the smoke it created. It was an amazing, inspiring day.
I think one of the most interesting, and perhaps unusual, thing I came across in my research was visiting an actual, preserved General Store from that time period at the historical park. It had more than 5000 artifacts from back in the day there, everything from delicate glassware to women’s shoes and the Postmaster’s desk and accoutrements. I was fascinated. It really was like stepping back in time, and it helped me so much as I sat down to write about that time period for Wishing Cross Station.
What has been your biggest obstacle in getting to where you are now? Your biggest encouragement?
FG: My health has definitely been my biggest obstacle to anything in my life. I’ve never been healthy, and I found out at last at age 38 that I have a rare genetic condition that is destroying the connective tissue in my body. This caused me to go blind in my thirties, and I only have limited vision now after six complicated eye surgeries. Without special glasses, I am legally blind and always be, only seeing light and motion.
The limitations on the use of my eyesight (reading is a real strain, always) have led me to get creative at times in how I wrote and finished my novels; but I am sure that all my trials and tribulations health-wise have added a dimension to some of my characters they never would have had otherwise.
Still another, and perhaps the greatest challenge I face is living with Bipolar Disorder, OCD and PTSD. There are times when I cannot write at all because of the medications I take for these disorders, and those are very trying times for my soul. One block lasted a year and a half and I wondered if I’d ever be able to write again. It was terrifying.
So, I don’t and can’t write on a schedule or set writing goals with dates in mind like other writers do. When I’m manic, I write a lot, quickly. Then the stories are refined in editing later when my mind has quieted down.
I also had the most amazing editor on Wishing Cross Station, Laura Bartha, who was just incredible and so helpful. Between her skills and those of my amazing proofreader, who happens to be a bestselling author named Jennifer Gracen, this story has been in good hands from start to finish and I am so grateful to everyone who has been a part of bringing Keigan’s story to life.
The greatest encouragement to me has been a handful of people who believed in me even when I didn’t; and also the drive of my character’s voices in my head, trying to tell their stories. They reminded me that if I didn’t tell them, then no one else would, and that was huge incentive to get their tales down onto the page.
And a couple non-writing questions:
Did you have a favorite toy as a child? Do you still have it?
FG: I did and I do! The most special of all was a stuffed Paddington bear who went with me everywhere I went, including on vacations to as far away as Florida and Puerto Rico—twice! He’s looking sad but I still adore him. I also still have some dolls from my childhood, Barbies and my favorites, Darci dolls. Also still have a Star Wars action figure or two from my originals—sadly the whole set didn’t survive the rigors of play even though I was careful with them. I’ll never forget the day Princess Leia’s head fell off. I was devastated.
Do you have any recurring dreams or nightmares?
FG: I do, but they are too dark and difficult to talk about. The dreams are hopes for the future to dear to be put into words, and the nightmares… because of the PTSD, sometimes the images from them follow me into the daylight and try to oppress me there as well and it’s a difficult thing to cope with. I am grateful to have a great team of doctors and professionals looking out for me; without them I just don’t know where I’d be now. Well, I know where I’d most likely be and it wouldn’t be where I am now. They have my unending, sincere gratitude.
Thank you so much for hosting me today!