Writing has gotten me in and out of trouble since I was 15 (back then, mostly just in trouble.) For 10 years, I designed &/or wrote for lots of video games, one of which was nominated for “Most Innovative Game Design,” but I lost to a rapping onion. If you know games you get why my two bad beagles are named Zelda and Kirby.
School: I spent more years in it than a person ever should, because let’s face it, reading books is so much better than having a job. I fell in love with American literature at Amherst and Yale, earned an MA in English from Stanford, and studied creative writing under the late great poet George MacBeth at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. I taught Intro to Film as a TA at Yale and Romantic Poetry as a TA at Stanford. Don’t tell the people at Yale, but sometimes I taught the section before I’d seen the movie it was about…
I live in Santa Monica, CA, with my family, most of whom were enslaved into working with me in one form or another on my forthcoming YA book for Little, Brown. I’m not kidding; when my daughters wanted to go to school I said “Why are you so selfish? Get back in there and edit,” and by said I mean yelled and maybe threw things, it’s all a haze. I have a writing partner named Kami and she is why we ever get anything done. (Well, Kami and the daughter-slaves…)
Q: With so many various writing conferences and cons nowadays, authors seem to have several options to fill their schedules. What is it about Romantic Times that made you add this event to your busy schedule?
A:The roster of YA authors that Melissa Marr, the captain of the YA track, has recruited for this year is amazing. I’m going to the conference as a reader and a fangirl as much as a writer!
Q: As far as busy schedules go, do you find time to read for yourself? If so what are some of your current favorite books?
A: Sometimes I’m all YA paranormal romance, and other times I’ll just want to solve a crime with Temperence Brennan or Scarpetta. But I love and read all the authors who toured on the “Smart Chicks” YA tour with me. And I think Ally Condie’s a great voice in the genre.
Q: So many adults are enjoying the YA genre now. Do you feel like your writing has messages for the targeted audience of young adults, or do you keep in mind the cross-over audience as well?
A: I’m such a YA cross-over reader myself that I write for myself and my teen daughters. We read the same books, so if it flies in my house, it generally works for the genre.
Q: Do you ever get “star-struck” meeting other authors or have “fan-girl” moments?
A: Totally! I still have a hard time keeping a straight face when I’m talking to Cassie Clare. On the inside, I’m screaming “That’s Cassandra Clare!” And when I met Meg Cabot at the Texas Book Festival, I was such a dork. She’s so glam in real life!
Q: Since Romantic Times has an emphasis on romance, who are some of your favorite romantic couples of fiction, or ones perhaps you’ve created?
A: I love Ethan and Lena, the star-crossed lovers of Beautiful Creatures and Beautiful Darkness. They’ll always be my favorites. But I love Cassie Clare’s Jace, and pretty much every guy Sarah Dessen’s ever written.
Q: Are there certain things you have to have to write, like snacks or music?
A: Enormous earphones, the soundtrack to Spring Awakening or one of my mixes, my laptop, and until recently Diet Coke. I also travel all the time and that seems to inspire me more than anything else.
Q: Writing seems to be such a personal thing, is it hard to send your work out into the world? How do you deal with getting feedback from so many different people?
A: I fall into almost a dream-state when I’m working. I forget to eat and barely sleep and can’t keep track of the time. So what happens after the writing seems like an entirely different thing, almost a different industry. I sort of hand everything off to my agent or my editor and then fall back into the next dream. I try not to get too caught up in the things I can’t control.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to young adults (on anything), what would it be?
A: Don’t be afraid to do what you really want to do. Don’t waste twenty years getting up the nerve to do it, like I did. And learn how to finish something. That’s a totally different skill than writing!
Q: What is your opinion on the steady popularity of supernatural elements in YA fiction? Do you think that the Vampire (were’s, angels, demons, fairies) trend is here to stay?
A: Vampires and angels and weres and fairies aren’t going anywhere. If anything, paranormal romance is only expanding as a genre. I think the supernatural is a safe way to investigate dangerous feelings and ideas. Fantasy is here to stay for the same reasons romance is — because we need it to be.
Q: As writers of Young Adult fiction, teens (and some adults for that matter) can get kind of obsessed with characters and the authors that created them. Do you enjoy the fame and attention you have gained from writing or is it more of a nuisance?
A: I love meeting my readers, and I love talking books — any books, not even my own! — with them. So no, it’s never a nuisance. I’m shocked and grateful for the amazing roller coaster ride of the past few years.
Q: What is next for you? Any exciting news you could share…or tease us with?
A: Kami and I just wrapped up copyediting of the third book in the Caster Chronicles, and are hard at work on the fourth and final book in the series. That will be a bittersweet last page to write — we really love Ethan and Lena and the whole Caster universe!
Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan’s eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there’s no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town’s tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.
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