When did you start writing?
I started writing as soon as I was old enough to hold a pen. I wrote my first story at age three. It was called “The Cat And The Mouse Who Were Friends,” and my mother wrote down the words for me as I dictated them and I provided all the illustrations. I moved on to writing novels when I was around nine, though they will never see the light of day and are best used as kindling. I had my first meeting with a publisher at thirteen.
What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
I love revision. As a kid, I would never revise a single thing I wrote. However, this is the part of the process where a writer gets to dig in and, as my editor says, “really polish the gem and make it shine.” It’s like doing a giant puzzle, moving those pieces around to see how they fit best, digging deeper into characters’ thoughts and actions, upping the stakes, adding the meat to the bones.
What’s your least favorite part of the writing process?
Most definitely writing a synopsis. That, to me, is fresh hell.
How do you get the ideas and characters for your books?
I think story ideas are all around us, and when you live with two teenagers (by publication one of them won’t be anymore!) there is a never-ending supply of subject matter. I draw a lot from both real life, from tidbits of crazy stuff I see on the internet that sparks an idea, and also from the kinds of books I enjoy reading myself. I’m a sucker for romantic comedy. Dialogue infused with humor and laugh out loud moments, coupled with a story that gives you all the feelings is always the goal. More often than not, I begin with characters that take up residence in my head (wow! that sounds slightly schizophrenic!) or a setting, and then I figure out how to marry them together to a story that they need to tell.
Do any of your characters resemble you?
I think all of my characters have a piece of me in them, or borrowed traits from other people I know. I think that’s important, on some level, for my being able to truly inhabit their skin during the writing process with a familiarity that feels honest on the page.
How did you come up with the idea for MY KIND OF CRAZY?
I’d also been seeing a lot about these elaborate promposals that teens are doing, and I thought to myself, because I have a totally twisted sense of humor, it would be hilarious to show a promposal gone terribly, horribly, wrong. What if a guy invites a girl to Prom by putting sparklers on her lawn? And what if he ends up lighting her lawn on fire? And what if there’s a witness? I knew I wanted to tell a story about friendships that can help carry us when we cannot carry ourselves, and helping others find light in the darkness. I’d been dealing with a lot of that in my personal life at the time I wrote this, and one day Hank and Peyton just popped into my head.
Do you have any advice for an aspiring writer?
Read all the books you can. You can learn as much from good writing as bad writing. Don’t compare yourself to others and where they are on their writing journey. You will only drive yourself crazy because it’s different for everyone and seriously has to do with algorithms, the alignment of the stars and whatnot. Especially whatnot. The key? Don’t give up! Go to all the workshops and conferences you can. Meet other writers, talk about craft. These people will become your community, and they will get your crazy!!
Can you read the manuscript I’m working on and give me feedback?
Unfortunately, no. Aside from all the legal reasons, I am busy working on my own writing and simply do not have time. I definitely do recommend connecting with local authors in your area and working together to critique and beta read each others’ work. Input from other writers can be invaluable.
Is it true that the baristas at your local Starbucks know your order and start making it sometimes as they see you walking in because you’re there that often and probably should take that as a sign to cut back on this habit?
What are you working on next?
I actually have several projects in the works, but I can’t say anything about any of them yet!