Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Where do you get your ideas?
A: Ideas are everywhere. You can find a great idea in something as mundane as an iron or glass of water. All you have to do is keep your eyes and ears open and ideas will fall from the sky. I always keep a small book handy so, when ideas appear, I can write them down. The hard part is taking an idea and making it into a great story with great characters.

Q: When did you first want to be a writer?
A: I have always been an avid reader, but never thought I’d be good at writing so I never tried – though English was always one of my favorite classes. When I was sixteen, my English Lit teacher gave us a terrifying assignment: write a poem. I could maybe write a really short story, but a poem? I expected to fail this assignment, and almost didn’t do it. But I made myself sit down and at least try – and was surprised. Not only did I write the poem and get an A, I discovered how much I enjoyed writing. I wrote poems for twelve years, then wrote my first book (which was a middle grade novel).

Q: What made you want to write books for kids?
A: A friend of mine recommended the Harry Potter books (at the time, the fourth had just been published). I resisted because I don’t generally like what’s in the main stream. But I finally gave in, and was hooked after the first book. I voraciously read the rest, and when I finished I stared at the cover of Goblet of Fire with a smile on my face. That’s when it hit me. I’ve always loved books for middle graders and young adults. I could write a story for kids! It’s challenging, and I’d be reaching a very special audience. So I sat down and wrote my first book, which was truly awful and I’m glad it was never published. I took a couple writing classes and learned a lot about planning stories and creating characters. More importantly, I learned how much I didn’t know about books, publishing, and storytelling. There’s still a lot I don’t know, and can proudly say that I learn something new everyday.

Q: Do you still write poetry?
A: I do, but I keep most of it to myself. It’s intensely personal, and I’m shy.

Q: How many hours a day do you spend writing?
A: It depends on the day. It's hard with two little boys running around, but I usually write or do something related to writing everyday. There are days when I’ll spend a few hours writing, and other days it’ll be fifteen minutes.

Q: What do you like to do when you aren't writing?
A: I spend time with my family, train in karate, bake, crochet, read, watch movies, or do anything creative.

Q: What’s your favorite movie?
A: I could never pick just one. I love stories in any form. But I guess I could say that if it’s written by Joss Whedon, either for the big screen or for television, I’m going to see it. He knows how to weave a great story.

Q: What are some of your favorite books/authors?
A: That’s a very long list. Harry Potter would have to be at the top, simply because those books inspired me to write for children – they have a special place in my heart. Some of my favorite authors in middle school were Katherine Paterson (though I was teased with Terabithia), Scott O’Dell, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Robert C. O’Brien. When I was in grade school, my favorite books were Harry and the Terrible Whatzit by Dick Gackenbach, Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber, Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, and Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish. For some of my favorite books of all time, click here.

Q: How long does it take you to write a book?
A: It varies. I finished my early novels in a few months to a year, but my later work has taken much longer.  I'm realizing just how much needs to go into a novel, and I can't capture it all in just a few months.  I’ve been working on a MG for more than seven years now, and I’m still not finished.

Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m working on two projects right now – a YA and a MG. I usually have more than one project going at a time. When I get stuck on one, I move to the other. It works out well.

Q: What was your favorite subject at school?
A: I had two favorites: English and Math. Spelling and grammar came easily to me, and by the time I started high school I’d tested out of grammar and was moved to literature. Math was the same, and I attribute a lot of that to having a good memory.

Q: What do you think is the best advice for aspiring writers?
A: Read. Read lots. Read until your eyes are red and tired and the words jumble on the page. Figure out why you loved a particular book, and how the author constructed that story. On the flip side, figure out why you hated a particular book, and what you would do to make it better. Then take some writing classes, join a critique group, and write every day you can.