I was very fortunate to be able to interview one of my all-time favorite authors recently (she is definitely one of the most talented in my opinion at least!). So, here it is!
What inspires you to write?
I think I am most inspired by the idea of maturing / growing into yourself…and the fact that sometimes who you think you should be doesn’t actually match up with who you become. I also love thinking about friendships evolve and the expectations people face from their friends and family.
You write a lot (at least, in the two novels you've published so far) about teens. How did your teen years influence you and your writing?
Well, I think that anyone who has met me in real life would say that I am barely grown-up. I still feel much the same way as I did in my teen years—uncertain, skeptical, moody, and passionate. So in a way, I think my personality is what helps me write YA novels…I can commiserate with my characters and understand them deeply, because we’re honestly not too different.
One of my favorite parts of your writing is how realistic it is, everything from the characters and their personalities to the situations they find themselves in. How do you make your stories so vividly real?
Why thank you! I studied Screenwriting in college, so I was trained to be a very visual writer. In screenplays, you’re not allowed to go too much into internal character emotion…everything needs to be shown physically. When I am writing a scene, I try to imagine it like a movie, and then transcribe all the things I see going on.
I noticed you like to incorporate art forms in your writing (photography in A Little Friendly Advice and drawing in Same Difference). Does this reflect on yourself? Or are you just an art fan in general?
I like creative people, and I love making stuff! I also went to art school. So I guess that’s just an extension of my personality coming out on the page.
Both A Little Friendly Advice and Same Difference contain some sort of friendship rift or dispute. What was it like to write about these?
Writing about friendship drama can be really emotionally taxing. I can vividly remember how awful it was to fight with my friends, how sick and sad and, sometimes, scared it would make me feel. So putting my characters through those same experiences can be very hard.
One of the reasons I enjoy your writing so much is that you include such subtle emotion. How do you create this?
Hmm. I think again it comes from the screenplay training! But I take that as a huge compliment. I want my books, my characters to feel as real and true-to-life as possible. Sometimes, when emotion is too big, it feels forced.
Which of your characters, from either A Little Friendly Advice or Same Difference, can you relate to the most?
I can definitely relate to Emily in SAME DIFFERENCE. Her story is partly based on my life.
I'd just like to say that you are so fortunate to have such beautiful covers for both your novels. How did these come about?
Well, for SAME DIFFERENCE, I chose the cover shot. I found it online and just loved how the image spoke to the character’s journey. I also liked that the girl looked like a real teen…not some made-up too-beautiful princess. I was lucky that my publisher felt the same way.
For ALFA, they had asked me to type up some character sheets to use at the model casting, and then had me explain how I might imagine the girls would pose for a picture. They absolutely nailed it. It’s like those models crawled right out of my brain.
What is the best part about being a YA author?
I love hearing from girls and then sending back little presents in the mail.
What's do you plan on writing next? I am definitely eager to know what's next from you!
Yay! You make me so happy! I’m working on a new novel that’s called PAST PERFECT. It will be out next year…in the fall, I think. It’s about a good girl named Natalie who tries to “rehabilitate” a slutty freshman girl, while hiding her own first sexual relationship with a boy, because she’s afraid of what people might think of her. It’s totally juicy!