She told me that she feels like White Witch was a "gift book." The idea came to her the summer before she sold her first book—which was not this one. It was also the summer that she considered quitting writing.
She had started writing her first manuscript in the early 1990s, but didn't get really serious about writing and submitting for publication until her local RWA chapter, Music City Romance Writers, was started in 1996.
"I'd been at it for about 10 years at that point and getting really discouraged," she explained. "I ended up sitting on my couch watching all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, all five seasons of Angel and the first season of Supernatural. Somewhere in the midst of all that, I started getting an idea that would become White Witch. I wrote the first draft in 17 days. It's gone through a lot of changes since then, but it's still the book that got me going again."
She always wanted to be a writer, but at first she didn't think about books. She went into journalism and worked at newspapers and magazines for several years before quitting to write books full-time.
"How do you do research for your books?" I wondered.
"There is so much available online now, but I also have used documentaries and programs on TV (for Winter Longing, a YA set in Alaska that I wrote under the name Tricia Mills), maps, interviews (also for Winter Longing -- a friend had lived in Alaska and I'd never been there). My favorite thing to do, however, is on-site research. There's nothing like experiencing a place firsthand -- the sights, sounds, scents, the feel of a place -- to help make it come alive on paper. I made a trip to Salem, Massachusetts, last summer to do this for books 2 and 3 in the Coven trilogy, which take place there."
Trish also writes adult fiction, and I asked her why she decided to write in the YA genre.
"There is something so powerful about the teen years, when everything is at a heightened emotional level, that sticks with you no matter how old you get. I think there's a teenager living inside all of us. I've always loved movies, TV shows and books in which the central characters are teens. It's a time when you're beginning to leave childish things behind and on the cusp of becoming an adult, figuring out who you really are and what you want to do with your life. It's an exciting time. Plus, when I'm writing the story, I can make things turn out as they should. That's not always the case in real life. Just ask any girl (or boy) who has experienced unrequited love, bullying, social ostracism, etc."
Even though there aren't actually actual events from her own teen years, she has taken bits and pieces of the feelings around things that happened to her while she was growing up.
"I think most teens experience the same types of angst at one point or another, so it's easy to pull from that and have it be a universal theme with which teen readers will connect," she explained.
Good stories helped Trish get through some tough times and transported her to other places, and she loves the idea that perhaps in the stories she creates she can do the same for someone else.
"What challenges do you think teens face today that you did not?" I wondered.
"I think it's the same things, just much more dangerous. We had drug issues in the 1980s, but it was typically marijuana. Now the drugs are so much harder and dangerous, life-altering and unfortunately sometimes life-ending. Same with violence. We'd have fights in our school, but not once did I worry about someone walking in with a gun."
To keep her finger on the pulse of teens, she watches a lot of teen-centric movies and TV shows, reads a lot of YA fiction, and pays attention to news stories and online resources that cater to teens.
There are several writers Trish admires—writers that can take her to another time or place, so much that she feels she's really there.
"J.K. Rowling really is a master at creating a fully-realized, three-dimensional world full of characters that are real to me. So is Suzanne Collins. One of the books I got most excited about last year was Beth Revis' Across the Universe. It's sci-fi YA, which I was excited to see because I'm a big sci-fi fan."
"What are you passionate about these days?" I wondered.
"I tend to be obsessive about my fandoms. My latest is Game of Thrones. I don't have HBO, so when the first season came out on DVD, I got the first disc from Netflix. I loved it so much that I couldn't wait for the next disc and went to buy the season on DVD. I watched it in three days, and I went to my friend's house to watch the premiere of season 2 on April 1. I've watched tons of fan videos and interviews with the cast on YouTube and all the DVD extras. I'm also reading the books."
Some of the other TV shows she enjoys are: The Walking Dead ("love Daryl Dixon!"), Lost Girl ("love Dyson!") and Supernatural ("love Sam, Dean and Castiel!").
Finally, I asked, "If you were stranded on a desert island and were only allowed to have five modern conveniences with you, what would they be?"
"Electricity, running water/plumbing, a loaded e-reader, an endless supply of toilet paper," she said with a grin, "and a laptop computer."
About the Author:
Witchcraft Is Her Family’s Business.
No One Quits The Family And Lives To Tell About It.
“Jax” Pherson has power, enough power to know her future will end in service to the dark coven her father controls. Unless she can stay hidden in a small community in the mountains of North Carolina. She must find a way to live without magic and deny the darkness she feels welling up inside her-the same dark power that fuels the covens around the world. All she wants is a normal life. A boyfriend. Friends. Some place to belong, but all too soon Jax’s barely begun new life hangs in the balance when she discovers that the boy she’s attracted to is sworn to kill her kind. He’s a hunter with good reason to kill everything that goes bump in the night. Even the most fleeting use of her power is tantamount to signing her death warrant and will bring both hunter and coven down on her. But can she walk away when her friends are threatened by an old evil? Something created by the magic of witches? Jax’s only hope of survival is to convince the boy she loves to forget everything he’s ever been taught and help her find a way to fight the covens. To believe there is some good in her.