Peggy: Writing is a series of snags. Sometimes I haggle over solutions for days. Sometimes I let ideas simmer while I’m asleep. Usually after brainstorming with people in my writers group, I’m able to push myself over the hump. My greatest struggle is fear—fear of making mistakes in grammaror plot, of stumbling over dialogue or character development lest someone dubs me a terrible writer. Fear is the ogre who sits in the middle of the road blocking my project’s progress on the way to completion.
Deirdra: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
Peggy: I’ve learned to write through distractions: screaming kids, barking dogs, and blasting video games. However, I do like quiet when I write. I want to hear the words forming in my head, not someone else’s words beating a tune inside me. The break room at work is noisy and people could care less about what I’m trying to do. So I’ve learned to shut out the noise. My co-workers have commented on how my concentration baffles them.
Deirdra: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
Peggy: Inspiration is everywhere. I read, read, read, research a little here, a little there. I go to movies and pay attention to plot development on TV. I listen to conversation in grocery store lines or in conference room meetings. I like to absorb how authors put sentences together; it helps my own creativity kick in. But I have to chose whose work I read with care. Reading a less talented writer’s stories affects me as much as reading the good stuff.
Deirdra: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Peggy: I wish I could thank my eighth grade English teacher who handed me my life when she introduced me to storytelling. My talent might have remained dormant otherwise. In my later years, attending the first meeting of the American Night Writers Association (ANWA) in the back room of the Gilbert, Arizona library provided me a source of encouragement and writing education from which to draw over the years. I can’t say enough about joining a writers group.
Deirdra: What’s your secret to making the character’s in your books come to life?
and after my father goes to bed at night. I jot down ideas, research, or read on my lunch breaks.
Deirdra: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?
Peggy: I guess the trite answer is I get my ideas from life—gleaning material from all the follies and joys that bombard me every day. But if I think about it, the ideas that turn into books are those ideas that spring up from some place beyond the scope of my imagination and experience. Those inklings nag at me, begin to buzz inside my mind. As they grow louder and more annoying, I corner the ones that are most clear and try to capture them on paper. I often wake up in the morning with direction and focus and eventually follow that inspiration right to my keyboard.
Deirdra: When did the idea of writing a book first come to you?
Peggy: The idea to write a book gelled about the time I won my first writing contest. I didn’t chase the idea until I had several children in my home.
Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?
Peggy: I hope my readers will see, smell, hear, and taste what I’m trying to say. I want them to feel as enthusiastic about my subjects as I do. I especially want them to love the characters they relate to enough that they’ll want to bring them home and invite them to dinner.
Deirdra: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?
Peggy: I’ve done both. My first book was an experiment. I let the ideas and words flow without structure. As I write my second book, I am outlining so I don’t forget vital plot development. However, I often veer away from my outline. My characters are as stubborn as my kids. They want to do things and say things I never planned or hoped for them.
Deirdra: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?