Frequently Asked Questions
When and why did you start writing?
I don’t remember a time I wasn’t writing or making up stories. For a long time I thought I’d be a journalist—I worked for the local newspaper when I was still in high school, and I was a journalism major for my first year of college. But my major changed and life went on, landing me as a director of development for a nonprofit organization. I started writing fiction as a stress outlet during that time.
What made you decide to write a novel and seek publication?
Reading is something I’ve always loved. And I think most avid readers fantasize about writing novels at some point. I definitely did. Despite that, when I first started completing novels it wasn’t with the intention of seeing them published. A good writer friend really loved one of my manuscripts and demanded that I make an attempt to find a publisher.
Where did you get the idea for The Trajectory of Dreams?
I was reading Mary Roach’s book Packing for Mars, and the germ of an idea popped into my head. There’s so much concern about astronauts being mentally competent and having the right kind of personality for space travel—and then something like the Lisa Nowak episode happens. I don’t know. The idea got twisted in my head until Lela White, the main character in Trajectory, was born.
What traits and tidbits do you share with Lela White?
Not many! We’re both readers, which pretty much covers what we share, personality-wise. Lela’s cat, Nike, is based on my cat, though. Not that my cat, Mayor McCheese, speaks to me in any way, but they look just a like—a huge yellow cat who is fond of nudging me with his head.
What kind of research did you do for The Trajectory of Dreams?
I’m not a sleep lab tech, nor do I know a lot about sleep or space travel or astronauts. And I have this weird thing about liking to be as accurate as possible (blame my journalism background). As luck would have it, the Philadelphia Science Festival was happening right around the time. Mary Roach spoke at the Franklin Institute about Packing for Mars and space travel, and Guy Bluford (an astronaut who grew up in West Philly) made an appearance at the University of the Sciences and gave an amazing presentation about his experiences on the space station and on the shuttle. I also interviewed a few people who have been involved with sleep studies. Most interesting, though, was the research I had to do on arson. Finding a firefighter willing to talk to me was nearly impossible—most people I approached probably thought I was secretly planning to torch a building. Finally, an old friend from high school agreed to help me out. I learned so much from him, and I’m so grateful. Of course, I still have no interest in setting fire to anything!