What was your inspiration for AFTERMATH?

I’ve wanted to write AFTERMATH since I was twelve years old, when a girl my age, from my neighborhood, disappeared on her way home from school. It was the first time I truly realized that “stranger danger” was a real thing and that bad things can happen to girls like me, even in safe neighborhoods like ours. Thankfully, the girl was found alive some time later. She’d been held captive in the crawlspace of a man’s house a few blocks from her own. Her family moved away soon after her rescue, but I never forgot about her. I wonder how she recovered, where she is today, and how she’s doing.

I changed the circumstances in AFTERMATH — Charlotte is missing for four years — and the book starts when she escapes. I focus on what I’ve always wondered about the girl from my neighborhood: her journey of recovery. It’s a story of hope, healing, and triumph over tragedy, for fans of ROOM and THE LOVELY BONES.

Why do I sometimes see the DECEPTION SO series called RUN TO YOU? And why do I sometimes see six shorter Run to You publications?

Clara Kensie RTY 1-6 Covers straight layoutThe first two books in the DECEPTION SO series were originally published by my former publisher as the RUN TO YOU serial. A few days after I sent in my contract for the two books, they changed the titles and told me they were going to publish the two books as a six-part serial. The two books were released in six installments, one week apart, in 2014. But the serial format was a flop. No one wanted to make six separate payments for the equivalent of two complete books. I was heartbroken. More than that – I was grief-stricken. After Book One (the first three serial installments) won the RITA Award for Best First Book, I got my rights back to the series and took the serial installments off the market. I compiled the books back to full-length–the way they were meant to be–returned their original DECEPTION SO titles, designed new covers, released them in print, and continued the series with more books. A happy ending!

Why did you become a writer?

Reading a book usually takes only a few hours, but some books I love so much that I never want them to end. My time with those beloved characters is so brief, yet I want to spend days, weeks, months, a lifetime with them. The only way to do that, I realized, was to write books myself. Now I get to spend months or even years with my characters as I write their stories.

Where do you get your ideas?

AFTERMATH was inspired by a real life event. But usually, a what if… will pop up in my head out of nowhere. For the DECEPTION SO series, I was pulling out of a parking space at a grocery store and thought,What if a girl was the only member of her family without a psychic ability and they were being hunted by a telepathic killer?

Will you describe your writing process?

Before I write one word of my manuscript, I plot as much of it as I can using Michael Hague’s Six Stage Plot Structure . Then I write the first draft as fast as possible: no editing, no pretty prose. My first draft is a discovery draft, just to see what I have. Trust me, it is not fit for human consumption. After that, I print it out and make notes of all the changes/additions/deletions I need to make, then I re-write it (sometimes almost the entire thing) before sending it to my critique partners. I’ll revise again based on their feedback and my own insights, and repeat as necessary until it’s ready to be sent out into the world.

What’s next for you?

I’m having fun writing more books for the DECEPTION SO series! I’m also working on another dark, ripped-from-the-headlines contemporary YA, a super-romantic YA mystery/thriller with a dash of magical realism, and a New Adult romance. I’m excited about all of them!

Any tips for aspiring authors?


  • First and foremost, READ. When you read something you like, figure out why you like it. When you read something you don’t like, figure out why you don’t like it.
  • Join a writers’ group (I belong to the Romance Writers of America, but there are lots of groups out there).
  • Find critique partners and beta readers who will be honest with you—even if what they say is hard to hear—and consider their feedback with an open mind.
  • Learn everything you can about the craft of writing, the publishing industry, and book marketing and promo. But don’t spend so much time learning that you never actually, you know, write.
  • On that note: You do not have to follow every single marketing strategy and participate in every single promotional opportunity. If you do, you’ll spend all of your time, money, and effort doing marketing and promoting, and none of your time writing. 
  • Remember this quote from Theodore Roosevelt: Comparison is the thief of joy.