Painter of Dreams FAQs

Here are the answers to some of the frequent questions I’ve received about my novel, Painter of Dreams, which is the first book in my North Star Series.

Why did you write Painter of Dreams?

I wrote it in the 1980s when I was 23, a military wife, an ambitious medical student, and mother of three. I was going through one of the roughest times in my life. I’d lost the vision in my left eye due to a macular retinal detachment. Several surgeries failed to correct the condition. I was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and a few other conditions that doctors didn’t understand or know how to treat—they still don’t. As a result, I dropped out of medical school.

I felt like my life was over.

That Christmas, my mother sent me a Heather Graham romance novel. I’d never read romance and wasn’t particularly interested in doing so. But I was bored, depressed, and felt like I had nothing better to do, so I began reading.

The novel changed my life. I mean that literally. I was so moved that I was never the same. I knew immediately that I must pursue a career writing romance novels. I wanted to breathe my own unique take into the genre, wanted to make others feel like I had when I’d read Heather’s book.

Is this your first novel?

Painter of Dreams is my first published novel–but there are many other dusty tomes beneath my roof.

My first novel was handwritten on legal pads and filled a good-sized cardboard box. It may still be hiding somewhere in the attic, a dark and scary specter that should never see the light of day.

I made a few other attempts at novel-writing as well, most of which were abandoned. And then, Robert Plant’s song, “Ship of Fools,” moved me. At the same time, my five-year old son was into the Titanic disaster and was collecting every book he could find on the subject. I too had always had an interest in Titanic, so I read the books. From there, my interest extended into the history of steamships, and somewhere along the line, the idea for Painter of Dreams was born.

Of course, Brandon Hawthorn was always in my mind, my ideal man, based on the many heroes in my life, including my grandfather and my husband, and the type of man who’s dedicated to home, family, and the love of their life.

Desiree is a painter. Do you paint?

No, I’ve never painted. And I did no graphical work when I wrote the novel. I only started creating graphics after I got my first computer in the late 90s and did no 3D art until 2005. My brother, however, is an exceptionally gifted illustrator and painter, so I was exposed to the lifestyle of a graphical artist. Sometimes, it’s amazing where inspiration comes from.

Why did it take so long for you to publish Painter of Dreams?

Many things delayed progress over the years, including illness, but I never lost faith in Painter of Dreams, in the beauty of the relationship that unfurls between Brandon and Desiree. A powerful theme throughout the story that has always moved me is the way the characters are dedicated to a dream. Being true to one’s dreams is one of my greatest beliefs, something I cherish and adhere to, something that’s of the utmost importance to me, which is why I’ve urged readers time and time again in my poetry to follow their dreams. In fact, one of my most popular poems is: “Follow Your Dreams.”

What about those who don’t like romance novels?

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of prejudice against the genre. And we all have genres we prefer over others. I’m not particularly into fantasy though I loved Tolkien’s books. And I’m not a big fan of sci-fi books either though I loved Frank Herbert’s work.

I suggest experimenting with different genres. What is there to lose? One may find something new that they absolutely love and such pursuits make life worth living. The popular romance novel, Shades of Grey, is a prime example. A lot of people who never read romance are reading and enjoying it.

Most American men I know won’t admit that they read romance novels, but I know many who do, and a few who write them.

Why did you decide to e-publish the novel?

Because I wanted to be part of the book publishing revolution, and mostly because I no longer wanted to wait to share Painter of Dreams with other romance readers. Had I approached an agent, it could have taken years to see it in print. At 140,000 words, it’s also on the long-side for current acceptable length standards, which is around 80,000 to 100,000 words. It’s fast-paced, but it’s written more like the romance novels of the 80s and has a lot of story and depth. Some readers have told me that these elements are missing from most modern romance novels.

But though I consider myself somewhat of a rebel, I’m not against print publishing, and I hope to see my North Star series in print someday.

I’ve also written a horror novel, which is currently in the rough-draft stage. After I edit it, I’m considering approaching an agent to market it. First, I want to finish editing the next three books of the North Star series. Book two, Rose on My Pillow, is nearly there. Book three, as yet untitled, is in the advanced rough draft stage. Book four is in the early rough- draft stage—63,000 words so far. After they’re finished, I intend to throw myself into the horror novel (actually a trilogy, something like Flowers in the Attic), which I will probably publish under a pen name.