What was your journey as a writer?
I absolutely love words. I think they are endlessly fascinating, the way you can move them around on a page like furniture in a room, casting everything in a different light.
From about age seven, I knew I’d be a writer. Dad taught literature, and Mom made sure we had library books. They took me to see Shakespeare plays, too. I can remember (vividly!) loving the rhythms and sounds I heard onstage. I didn’t know Shakespeare was supposed to be “hard to understand.” I mean, when you’re seven, all adults are hard to understand.
When I was nine, I thought Louisa May Alcott had based her writer-holic character Jo March on me. (Really.) Later, I fell hard for fantasy and sci-fi. By age fourteen, I wrote my stories in Elvish script. (Also awesome for hiding journal entries from little sisters.)
Do you have any writing habits that people might find unusual?
I write first thing in the morning when my inner editor is still asleep. That way, I’m not awake enough to consider whether something is a brilliant or ridiculous idea. This means lots of re-writing down the road, but I adore revision and edits. Which might also be considered unusual.
An odd habit I have during one of my (several) revision passes is to mix pages into totally random order. Then I look at single pages to find dull stretches that need polish. I try to make sure each page has a sparkling bit of humor or lyrical writing or profound emotion upon it. If it doesn’t, the page gets re-worked until something shines.
What is your writing process? Do you write regularly, at certain times, or just when inspiration hits?
I would be waiting a long time if I waited until inspiration stopped by to say hello! I have found that inspiration follows labor. In general, I’m not a disciplined person, so I had to learn to be diligent in my writing. I love writing, so it’s pretty easy to “force” myself to check in for work everyday. I save emailing, FB, blogging, interviews, etc. for afternoons.
Music or Silence?
I am one of the small group of writers who Absolutely. Can’t. Write. When. Music. Is. Playing. I get all caught up listening to the words in songs and I can’t pay attention to the words in my head.
However, when I’m doing really tedious line-edits, I like put on something lively. I keep meaning to get a really good Celtic mix together, but I haven’t yet, so send suggestions! Please!
How do you develop characters?
The characters show up pretty completely individuated in my head. I try to listen carefully to catch their different speech patterns and rhythms and make sure I get it down on paper accurately. I use dialogue as a way to both develop and differentiate characters. I like to interview my characters and am frequently surprised by their answers.
What inspires your ideas for “painful situations” for your characters?
I guess I could answer this on two levels. First, the emotional pain comes from things I know personally—things we’ve all experienced: fear, despair, anxiety, and so on. On the second level, I ask myself, “What is the worst thing that could happen to my character right now which they could survive?” And then I let my overactive imagination run away with me!
I never stopped reading YA even after I “grew up.” I love stories that are full of action and where the characters change and where there is hope. So much adult fiction is just so depressing. I’ve never really enjoyed it. Plus, books were my life when I was young, so I hope to do a teensy bit of paying that forward, you know? I lived inside books as a teen, as a small kind of salvation.
If you were throwing a dinner party and you could invite five people (fictional or real, dead or alive) who would you invite?
Jane Austen (for her wicked wit) and Suzanne Collins (for her brave examination of humanity and war) and Albus Dumbledore (who gets it that love triumphs and matters) and JK Rowling (so she could hang with her wonderful creation!) and CS Lewis, because he’d be able to moderate a great discussion between all of the above, seeing as I would be completely dumbstruck in the face of such genius.
The RIPPLE Series tells the story of a girl who can turn invisible, the boy she is falling for, and the geneticist who wants them both. Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and other fine retailers.