Today on Paws4Thought we continue our ongoing Shades of Fear series by welcoming Roxanna Mitchell. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Roxanna.
First, I’d like to thank you for the opportunity for this interview. I’m typically a very vivacious person but interviews scare me as I can also be quite shy. I call this dynamic the good twin-evil twin phenomenon.
I’m a widow (more on that later) with a smart, nerdy teenage son. A native Californian born to Midwest parents, I’ve made my home in the beach area of SoCal for close to 40 years.
I used to write in high school with a girlfriend and I’ve often told her that if we had continued we would have been our generation’s Mike Meyer. I went on to the University of California, Irvine and a major in biological sciences. Writing went by the wayside even though I always had ideas in my head for stories.
After college, I ended up working for a global telecommunications company negotiating contracts as a paralegal. Yes, I realized I loved the law. A far cry from biology, eh? During that time, I met the love of my life, an Irishman who was raised in England. A blond Paul McCartney, we married, settled in Redondo Beach, brought his three children over, and made one of our own.
I still live in Redondo, work in the global security industry negotiating contracts again, but now I’m also writing and finishing raising our son, who is the apple of my eye. I’ve volunteered in the schools since our son was in kindergarten, helping to create a supplemental science program for the students to encourage them to embrace STEM careers. I’ve also mentored robotics teams. I believe in giving back and the personal reward from this has come back to me in ways that cannot be counted in money. My heart overflows.
How did you get involved in Shades of Fear?
Dara Rochlin is my editor and best friend. Funny, I got her into the biz when I asked her to edit Perfect Score and she got me involved in Shades of Fear! She’s always trying to challenge me, giving me writing prompts to see what I can come up with. So when she approached me, I thought, “Why not? It will give me a chance to exercise my writing chops in a different way.” Plus it wasn’t like the 50,000 word challenge I completed in less than a month last November. 2500-5000 words would be a piece of cake – it’s a half day’s writing for me. Voila! Perfect Connection was born.
Who are your favorite authors?
I am a voracious reader, always have been. I often have 3-4 books going at once. While I like some authors for certain books, I only truly enjoy a few. Hemingway stands out with me as he was so matter of fact with his writing and yet you felt as if you were in his stories. Jane Austen – well, so clever, so intelligent, such a feminist and yet a true woman. Coelho – ah…Coelho…brilliant. Scott Turow – a still practicing attorney who really knows how to write. Garcia Marquez. I could go on…
Tell us a bit about your story Perfect Connection?
My story, Perfect Connection, is a true one. Five years ago, my husband of 22 years was diagnosed with esophageal cancer one month after I retired from a company I had been with for 25 years. I thought I was going to help him grow his general contracting business and slip into semi-retirement. Needless to say, I became his caregiver until he succumbed from his disease. It took me two years to go through the grieving process and, during that time, I began to write again, the product of which was my first novel, Perfect Score.
After I finished this book, I took off my wedding rings and decided that I wanted to date again, find my second soul mate. Embracing today’s technology, I turned to internet dating. Perfect Connection is all about my fears of being alone after being with someone for so long, searching for a new complement and the dangers of meeting strange men for coffee or drinks, not knowing what they truly will be like. Scary for even the youngest of people but more so for a much more ‘mature’ woman.
What are your own greatest fears and how do you deal with them?
Wow! This question brought tears to my eyes that are free-flowing now. My greatest fear is not being able to see my son, graduated from college, in a job, and as happy in a marriage as I was with his father. He is the legacy of our love and I wish him all that life has before him. It’s anything that any mother would want for her children. Jeez, I’m schmaltzy sometimes. *wiping tears away*
I truly enjoy writing and, while I do it for myself, I also hope that others truly enjoy it, too. My fear is that I’m really a no-talent and people are giving me lip service to spare my feelings.
As with any of my fears, I tackle them head on. Or…I meditate on them and give them to God to handle. I’m not a very religious person but I am spiritual. I try not to worry about things not within my control. I maintain a positive outlook on life.
Approaching a milestone birthday (I won’t tell which one), I fear that eventually I won’t be able to be as active as I am now, one of the reasons why I am SO active now. As long as I’m moving, I’m alive!
What do you like to do to relax?
I can relax ANYWHERE. What do I like to do? Well, I LOVE listening to music and going to live concerts. I enjoy hanging out with my teenage son, having philosophical conversations with him, discussing the latest in video games, science geeky nerdy stuff, or telling jokes about the prime time commercials for men’s ED meds. We are a very open family. Lol.
I have a core group of girlfriends that I adore. When we get together, a blue cloud hovers overhead. Shots of Fireball, good food, and ribald conversations…usually discussing what I’m writing about or some politically charged event.
Amazingly enough, power walking along the beach where I live is relaxing to me, too. Cathartic, therapeutic, my communion with God. Zumba in the park with Dara is always fun, too.
I can find relaxation in anything I do…except if I have a deadline!
What inspires you to write?
I find inspiration in many things – certain songs, landscapes, store windows, observing human dynamics. It could also be something that a friend is talking about, as in another person, and immediately I have conjured up an entire story. An example I can give you is a photograph shared on Facebook that a colleague, while on vacation, took. I was haunted by it, literally to the point that I dreamt of it. I knew it was another story. So consumed with this picture, I told my cover artist I had a new book in the “Perfect” series and I already knew what the cover should look like. When she asked me about it, I told her I couldn’t share the picture as it was not mine. In the end, the colleague gifted me with the picture – the one thing that inspired me to create this love story in Nova Scotia.
I also have a muse. You can’t see him. No one can although my friends like to think that they can see him next to me when I create. Perhaps they can. He’s the one that wakes me in the middle of the night with something poking me in my back. Ah, it’s just my Sharpie pen and pad. He kicks me out of bed and whispers sweet nothings in my ear, coaxing me to write. He plants things in front of my eyes constantly until I understand what he wants me to do with them. He’s a rather mischievous gent…well, gent sometimes and then a terror other times. Plus he’s quite easy on the eyes.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently finishing the second in the Perfect series, Perfect Fit, set half in Southern California and half in Southern Mississippi along the Gulf. Much of this I have written while listening to modern country, a genre of music I never thought I would enjoy but now thoroughly embrace for the emotions associated with it. Added to the fact that I get very emotional when I write, I’m often a basket case. This is a special story, partially based on fact. At least the main male protagonist is based on fact as is his profession, an Air Force Technical Sergeant, originally hailing from Southern California but now transformed into a Southern gentleman who falls for a teacher/beach girl while visiting his family during the Christmas holidays. I’ve had to learn a lot about the USAF and life along the Gulf. Interestingly enough, because of this book and the real guy behind this character, I became friends with Stance Bingham, another author who contributed to Shades of Fear. I listen to his radio station daily and encouraged him to finish ‘that story’ he had been ruminating in his mind for years. Amazing what writing can do to open an author’s world to other people who normally they would never have met.
I have four books lined up to be written. I’ve already started the beginning of Perfect Lies, another true story that is guaranteed to rock someone’s world in the Pacific Northwest. Ongoing, I’m writing two books simultaneously on internet dating, one funny; the other an exposé on identity theft and fraud involving a member of our military (unbeknownst to him). It will shock and scare many people but is meant to educate them as to the lengths scammers will go to in order to rob someone of their earnings.
Oh…and I’ve also written five country song lyrics and passed them on to an up and coming singer in Mississippi. Who knew I had poetry in my veins?
How can readers connect with you?
I am a VERY active Facebook and Twitter (@roxinrb) user. Eventually I WILL have my own website but writing comes first…always…oh, and my son! Once connected through FB and Twitter, you will see I have a lot of VERY interesting friends, many you might recognize. I won’t name names but one is a pretty hot singer who I modeled a character in Perfect Score on. J I’d love to collaborate with him someday. I encourage anyone who wants to connect to friend me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter. I try not to let the evil twin come out too much but sometimes she can’t be held at bay!
Thanks for the time and join me on this crazy journey!!
May all your days be perfect and, if single, may you find the perfect person for you.
Love, peace and keep reading!