My daughters inspired me to write Illuminate-Alive, She Cried, the second book in The Talisa Santiago Series. A couple years ago, I was doing research on Native Americans in the public library when I asked my oldest daughter to check out a book. She said there was nothing she wanted. I laughed and told her I would write a novel for her to read. Twelve weeks later, I gave her Spirit Seeker.
How did you come up with such interesting characters for this novel?
The characters in Illuminate-Alive, She Cried are a mix of many different people I have met throughout my life. Talisa Santiago, the protagonist, was definitely the most difficult character for me to write. I had to separate myself from her, let go of my own moral philosophies and beliefs, and allow Talisa to experience life and love in the way that seemed natural for her, not necessarily natural for me.
Who is your favorite author(s) and why?
I would have to say Harold Robbins and Milan Kundera, two opposites for sure. Robbins because The Betsy was the first book of fiction I read as a kid. I snuck it from my dad and kept it in a brown paper bag. As for Kundera, I picked up The Unbearable Lightness of Being in a used bookstore in college. I had never heard of him, or the book, but as soon as I read the prose, I was hooked.
Tell us about you and your family.
I met my husband when I was eighteen in Myrtle Beach, SC. We were college students from West Virginia working there for summer break. Five years later, we eloped and ran off to Tennessee. We've been married for nineteen years. David is my best friend.
What are your hobbies?
I love to play around with black and white photography, and try different wines. We have a few cellars and are always on the lookout for a new Burgundy (my favorite) Bordeaux or Barolo. I think it would fun to open a little wine shop/bookstore.
Some say the concept of rebirth is simply a metaphor for living a better life, a holier life. For seventeen-year old Talisa Santiago, such a resurrection is anything but a metaphor. It is her reality.
Talisa knows she can communicate with the spiritual world. She is the granddaughter of a shaman and going between two different worldly dimensions is something she realizes she is destined to do. However, what she doesn’t count on is what fate has in store for her.
After surviving the first hurricane of the season on the island where she lives, Talisa learns that her life is in grave danger. She must leave immediately and retreat to live with a secretive clan of Indians on a remote reservation deep within the Great Smokey Mountains.
Her blood brothers, three shifters who have the desires of both man and animal surround her, promising everlasting friendship and protection. However, the majestic mountains hold many secrets and danger lurks in the night. As Talisa falls prey to the evil tricksters that want her dead, she unleashed an untamed passion that may get them all killed.
Her friends tell her to stay away; she hears rumors that he is dangerous. Still, she can't resist. Whether Talisa realizes it or not, she knows a thing or two about boys like Jag Chavez. Fate is funny that way. For the first time in her life, Talisa meets kids just like her-Native Americans who know the ways of the spirit. The closer she gets to Jag, the more she realizes he is hiding a dark secret. He may have the markings of the Thunderbird, but he is named for the powerful Jaguar. Together they embark on a journey that will haunt her forever.