Josephine Strand was born in Italy, grew up in South Africa, and is a long-time resident of the United States. She discovered her love of books when she was introduced to her town’s public library at the age of eight. At nine, she gained her English teacher’s praise with her short story The Library at Midnight. She hasn’t stopped writing since, though Misty Dreams is her first published novel. Her travels between the three continents have strengthened her love for the sea and the outdoors. When not writing or absorbed in the latest gripping page-turner, she loves to cook and enjoys long nature walks.
Writers love using pets in their novels. Not only is it great for character development, but it adds an extra element of emotion and makes the story more enjoyable. Even some book or movie villains are dog or cat lovers, though they tend to prefer cats, perhaps because cats are not as heroic as dogs, and not as easily manipulated. Like the crazy cat lady in the Harry Potter Books, and Cruella De Vil in the original novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians. After all, isn’t the main purpose of fictional pets to show a softer side of the characters?
I don’t know what inspired me to use a pet monkey in Misty Dreams. While romance writers typically write dogs or cats into their stories, I went with a primate. A bit unconventional, perhaps, but once the idea set in, it wouldn’t budge. I’ve always had a fascination with monkeys in general. I just think they’re cute and smart and funny. I don’t have anything against dogs or cats, don’t get me wrong. I just thought it would add a unique touch to the story. To make a tropical island the story’s present-day setting was an afterthought, and completely unrelated to my choice of fictional pet.
I often wonder if other readers are as volatile as me when it comes to reading habits. Are you a multi-task reader, the type who likes to read more than one book at a time or a single task reader, preferring to read one book at a time? Are you adventurous, the type that likes to read everything, or do you stick to the same genre?
According to a Booklikes post, readers fall under the following categories:
The monogamist: the single-book reader
The polygamist: loves reading many books at a time
The extrovert: likes to read multiple genres
The introvert: sticks to one genre
The altruist: reads and recommends books to friends and family
The neurotic: switches between books and often doesn’t finish them
How many authors or aspiring authors have a pile of unfinished manuscripts stacked in a drawer or on their computers? How many of them were so sure each one of these would be their best work yet, only to lose interest after a few thousand words?
I’m in danger of becoming one of those. A serial discarder. A quitter.
Ever since I was a little girl I have loved traveling to new places. I believe traveling and living in different parts of the world has helped shape me and my writing and impacted the way I see the world. Family outings and vacations were always a source of inspiration for me. Even at school, my writing projects would often be about a new adventure or a new place I had visited. It’s no wonder geography was my favorite subject. Whether it was a road trip across the country or a day trip to the lake, I would always come home with fresh ideas for a new story or setting for a story. Even a field trip to see a ballet would prompt me to write a story about a ballet dancer. Fresh out of high school, I wanted to become an air hostess, but I stopped growing at seventeen, and my being vertically challenged pretty much ruled that out.
When I say ‘travel’, I don’t mean flying to exotic vacation resorts. Traveling can be expensive, but as a child I was blessed to have parents who loved having fun the cheap and simple way – road trips, picnics in the countryside, visiting friends in a different region of the country and the occasional splurge on a beach vacation with affordable efficiency accommodations. Yes, our family wasn’t averse to sacrificing a few luxuries in the name of fun.
People sometimes ask me what inspired me to write Misty Dreams. My response is always: my characters. Richard and Clare came to life long before the plot was even conceived. The story evolved around them as I wrote it. It was my first attempt at a full-sized novel, and I had no concept of how to plot a story. The writing process was one long exercise in perseverance, as well as a learning experience.