Why is writing important to you and why do you think it's an important medium for the world? As a 72-year old Black American woman, I am critically and painfully aware that my stories have either been untold, or told by people viewing my existence through corrective lenses. The women I write in mystery novels and historical fiction novels are full, whole, complex and complicated women, who live full, whole, complex and complicated lives. They are not aberrations or figments of a fanciful imagination. They're real women and not enough people know them, which is why I must write them.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer's block? I don't accept writer's block as a thing. If my story isn't moving it's usually because I'm standing in my own way...trying to make the characters or the story do what I want rather than allowing them to follow their own path. And yes, I treat my story and characters as organic...as living...as part of me until I complete the work.

What is your favorite time to write? Early to mid-morning until early to mid-afternoon.

What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received and would like to impart to other writers? A good and dear friend, also a writer, said to me, many years ago, that our ancestors never could have imagined that we'd be so privileged to be writers. I think of what I do not as work but as a privilege, and I'd like to believe that other writers feel the same way.

What excites you most about being a writer in today's age? The fact that we can access readers world-wide really is quite amazing, as is the fact that our stories can be read on electronic devices as well as the old fashioned way--in a book.

Penny Mickelbury's You Can't Die But Once is out now with Bywater Books.