Friday, October 24, 2014



1. When/why did you decide to become a writer?

I’ve loved reading since before I can remember. When I try to think back to those first tender moments of my youth, everything gets fuzzy, but one thing that stands out clear as day is my love for literature. Writing on the other hand, was always more of a chore. In high school I was in Advanced Placement English classes so I spent many a night mundanely toiling away on relentless essays and research papers. I hated it, considered it drudgery, and hardly ever took it seriously. To make matters worse my parents and teachers often told me I had a gift for writing and telling stories, so naturally I wanted nothing to do with it. Then I had my daughter at a young age. Gone were the nights I spent with my head in a book until midnight. Now, my head was in diapers. Eventually I got bit by the reading bug yet again, but it wasn’t until my daughter was much older that I realized that I wanted to create the worlds I loved plunging head first into. I specifically remember reading, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and thinking, “I have to do this or I will simply cease to exist!”

2. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What books do you enjoy reading today?

When I was younger I was a genre-phobe. I stuck closely to my “type” of books and refused to stray from anything that was not remotely Fantasy. I dabbled in some Sci-Fi and on occasion perused a YA novel, but that was mostly assigned reading. I was a hardcore Anne McCaffrey, Robin Hobb, Andre Norton fan girl. Dragons, castles, long, wayward quests, I adored it all. I loathed the future with all of its impersonal technology and cold, metal instruments, but the warmth and the culture of the past simply fascinated me. One day one of my good friends refused to stop ranting and raving about this book called, The Hunger Games, and she told me I had to read it. It didn’t sound like my thing but begrudgingly I bought it, and the rest is history. Now I read anything I can get my hands on, but YA is by far my favorite genre. Harry Potter was magical. The Fault in Our Stars made me ball like a baby. The Maze Runner blew my mind. But quite honestly, I love it all.

3. What was the inspiration behind your novel On The Run?

On The Run just sort of came to me one day. For a long time I had thought about writing a book but knew it would take years and years to get published so I was in no real rush to start. I had just finished reading The Trylle series by Amanda Hocking and on the back cover I stumbled upon her self-publishing story. And in that moment, everything changed. I had discovered a way to do it on my own, and that was truly the catalyst for On The Run. Suddenly all these ideas just started flowing through my head. I wondered what it would be like to be working late one night and stumble upon an incredible discovery that unintentionally put my family in danger. I wondered what a young girl would feel if her mother were kidnapped and her father dragged her all over the country desperately trying to find her. Even though its from Jade’s perspective, I literally poured every single drop of emotion I had into the story because I wanted readers to feel sentiment so strong from each character they could actually taste it.

4. Will we ever see Jade again?

Absolutely! As of right now On The Run is set to be a series of six books and Jade will be the main character in all of them!

5. What would you do of you were in Jade's position?

If I were in Jade’s shoes I would probably be suffering from the opposite predicament. Jade is physically capable, but emotionally undeveloped due to her age and circumstances. I am the exact opposite. I’ve been through so much in my life that emotionally I am tough as nails, and I’ve always found a way to see the rainbow even while in the midst of the storm. But physically – yeah I’d get my butt whipped!

6. Were any of the human characters or emotions taken from real life?

Yes and no. For a majority of the characters there was no real life inspiration behind them, but their traits were inspired by real people. Keith’s southern charm is reminiscent of my grandmother. Nuption’s biting wit has hints of my ever sarcastic charm. I came across quite a few girls in high school who had Cassandra’s brazen attitude. The only character who was semi based on an actual person was Derrick. My first boyfriend swept me off my feet in the same way Derrick sweeps Jade off hers, and though they had two very different personalities, that passionate, all consuming first love she experiences mirrors what we had to a tee. And I think every girl deserves to experience a first love like that.

7. What other genres would you like to try your hand at?

Everything. I want to try everything. Except maybe Westerns. I’d be no good at that, but I literally have dozens of ideas in almost every genre imaginable! It sounds crazy but sometimes it makes me nauseous just thinking about it. I have so many characters running through my head just begging to be set free, and I think I could write for a lifetime and not be rid of them.

8. Do you believe in aliens?

I am a firm believer in not arguing the existence or nonexistence of anything I myself have not experienced firsthand. Aliens, ghosts, psychic mediums. I’ve never experienced a supernatural event, but who’s to say they aren’t really out there? I think the biggest mistake we as humans make is thinking we know everything about everything, when in fact we are beyond clueless to how the universe around us really works.

9. Where did you get the idea for the many strange aliens in On The Run?

Some of the creatures from On The Run I could see clearly in my head. From day one I pictured the Vossalear as a Greyhound dog of sorts with lots of eyes and sharp teeth, and the Moridan always looked like huge bats to me. But for the other critters, I only had vague glimpses at best, so I went to the all mighty internet. I spent hours researching all types of monsters and mythical creatures, and my monsters came alive. I am detail-oriented to a fault so I even came up with some of the noises the creatures would make and then recorded them on my phone so I could play them back while I was writing a scene.

10. Would you like to see On The Run in theaters or on TV? If so, what actors would you like to see play your characters?

Honestly, being able to write and publish On The Run was an absolute dream come true. As much as I cannot deny that seeing it come to life would be awesome, I am more than happy with it coming to life in people’s minds. And let’s be honest, Hollywood can really screw a good book up. I think I would only be open to something like that if I could ensure that the film would stay true to the heart of the story. Picking people to play these characters would be tough, but I can give it a go.
Keith Thomas – Idris Elba
Meiying Thomas – Zhou Xun (Chinese singer and actress: Cloud Atlas, Painted Skin)
Derrick Harris – Derrick would be really, really hard. He was so much more than a pretty face. Off hand I would say Reggie Bush 13 years ago lol, but to be honest he’d be the hardest one to cast and I’d probably go with a total unknown.
Jade Thomas – Another toughie, but I’m going to go with model Karrueche Tran

11. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?

Ten years? Wow! Married. Lots of kids (both biological and adopted). Travelling the world. Volunteering. Taking care of my immediate and extended family. Writing. Writing. Reading. Writing. Happy.

12. What would you be doing if you weren't writing?

I’ve always loved the arts so if I wasn’t pursuing a writing career I’d probably be drawing and painting (poorly), singing (badly), and for several years I wanted to be an actress. I took lots of theatre classes and even taught myself to cry on demand, but I like eating and being with my family way too much, so I gave up on that dream a long time ago.

13. Can you tell KSR what you're working on next?

A few things actually. While writing On The Run I created an elaborate back story about the vampires introduced at the very end of the story in an effort to delve into their minds and figure them out. Well about 15 pages in I realized I had enough material to make a spin-off of sorts. So my next project is a vampire novel about a young girl in a feudal-like society struggling to survive at the bottom of the caste system. The novel features some of the vampires introduced in On The Run, and I’m really excited about it because I think I’ve created something unique and different. The main character’s name is Valentina and she’s another strong but flawed character much like Jade in On The Run, except I wanted to shy away from writing another vampire love story, and create something with a little more depth.

14. What authors, dead or alive, would you like to collaborate with?

Shakespeare. J.K. Rowling. Edgar Allan Poe. Cassandra Clare. Maya Angelou. Mark Twain. Anne McCaffrey.

15. Thank you for participating in the interview. Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?

1) I can be really shy and reserved when I initially meet people, but once I’m comfortable I tend to be overtly sarcastic and verbose. Oh and If I’m not making fun of you…I don’t like you.
2) Coldplay is one of my absolute favorite bands and a majority of their songs make me cry about two to three seconds. "Sparks" makes me blubber like a baby, "Shiver" makes me smile whilst the tears are falling and don’t get me started on "Fix You". The worst part is I can’t even give a logical explanation as to why I behave in this manner. All I know is that if I don’t see them live once before I die it will absolutely kill me.
3) This is incredibly embarrassing to say out loud but…I haven’t watched TV in close to nine years. I’ve seen one episode of Grey’s Anatomy, I have to assume that Orange is the New Black is a show about sprucing up your wardrobe, I can’t seem to figure out what enthralls people about The Walking Dead (they move really slow), and I turn my nose up anytime someone start’s a conversation with, “Did you see what happened yesterday on Real Housewives of…” Before you call me an absolute snob I should tell you that between working full time as a nurse, going to school part time, having an almost nine year old, trying not to be the worst girlfriend in the world and attempting (and failing miserably) to maintain proper hygiene, I just haven’t had the time. Most of the TV shows I happen to catch are animated (SpongeBob, Kung Fu Panda), although I do really enjoy watching adult movies. (The kind with people in them, not the kind that play after midnight on Showtime.) All of my other free time is spent writing, reading, and telling bad jokes to my family.

Find I-Lanaa online via:

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