Do you consider yourself a success?

This question, among others, was posed to me a few weeks ago by social activist and researcher Haegwan Kim, who interviewed me as part of the ongoing project for his blog, The Law of Success 2.0.

Here is a transcript of the interview. Feel free to add your own feelings in the comments. Such a subjective topic, this could be interesting...

Do you consider yourself successful and why?

I absolutely do, but it has nothing to do with how many books I sell. I’ve been married for fifteen years, which is my greatest accomplishment by far. We’re happy, both pursuing our dreams, both self-employed and finding out what’s really important in our lives. It’s not money, it’s not success, it’s not fame. It’s love, and joy, and laughter every day. With that as a base, everything seems to fall into place for me. Plus my husband supports my career 100%, always has, and that makes my life easier. He understands when I need to hermit, or when I blurt out unimaginable scenarios in the middle of dinner, or that moment in conversations when I drift away because I’ve just had a great idea…

I’m also rather disciplined, which is helpful. I have an innate sense of guilt when I’m not working, so I tend to just go ahead and get the work done so I can play. And I’ve been careful to check my ego at the door, not get bogged down in things outside of my control. I have a great team around me, my publishers and editors and agent, plus my close friends, and they all keep me very grounded.

What is the most important element to be a good author?

Being a dutiful observer, first and foremost. I tend to see things that other people gloss over. Truth be told, I look at people and situations in a completely different way from most people. One of the things I hear in conversation over and over is “I didn’t notice that.” So paying special attention to your surroundings, to the faces, the eyes, the lips of people, is a great start. Stare. You’ll see so much. Actually make eye contact. Smile. It’s amazing what you can read off people when they respond to a smile.

Second to that is being a reader. I don’t know any successful authors who aren’t voracious readers.

How and where do you find your creativity for your masterpieces?

Everywhere, but dreams most of all. The entire plot of my debut novel came from a dream. I wish that would happen more often. But creativity, writing, is a job. I don’t wait for inspiration to strike me, I harness it and ride it to the ground. You can’t wait for the Muse to delight you, you’ll never make your deadlines!

What is your goal as a best-seller author?

To entertain as many people as I can, to write books that are fun, can touch people, scare people and make them think. It’s such a capricious industry, I focus on what I can control, which is writing the best book I possibly can every time around, and hope for the best with the rest.

Could you please give us your advice for being successful, not as an author but as general life?

Be true to yourself. You can’t be in life what your parents want you to be, or your spouse, or your friends. You must follow your heart, your gut and your soul to your rightful place. I know that sounds a big touchy feely, but it is so true. Happiness creates success. Contentment allows the creative process to bloom. Be happy with yourself and your success will follow. People think they need so much – new cars, bigger houses, better clothes, thinner thighs. If you stop and focus on what really matters, your true self will emerge, and you’ll be shocked at what you don’t need, and how creative and successful you’ll be as a result.