I live in a very small town in Pennsylvania – kind of like the one in Jessica’s Guide … I’m married with two crazy little kids… I sometimes teach college… and right now, in my spare time, I’m trying to train for a half-triathlon thing, with a bunch of other women – although it’s only two months away and I STILL can’t swim, so that’s not very promising!
I’ve been writing my entire professional life, first as a political speechwriter, then as a freelance journalist. I decided to try fiction a few years ago, and sold a few short stories, which encouraged me to try a novel. The character of Jessica brought me to YA. I didn’t really know that YA was such a specific genre. I just knew that I wanted to tell a story about a teenage girl. I’m so glad I write for YA, though. It’s a really connected audience, and readers communicate with me a lot, which I really like.
3. Tell us about your most recent/ upcoming release?
My first book, Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, is about a very rational young woman who learns that her biological parents were vampire royalty who promised her, at birth, in marriage to a vampire prince. It’s about how she comes to grips with this very irrational truth about herself – and learns to love the arrogant, gorgeous vampire prince who comes to claim her on the eve of her senior year.
My upcoming release is called Jekel Loves Hyde, and it’s about two teenagers, Jill and Tristen, who gradually discover that they share a mysterious – and possibly dangerous – connection to the old novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It’s kind of dark, and funny and very romantic, with a paranormal twist.
4. Do you plot out in advance, or just start writing and see where things go from there?
Half and half… I like to know where the story’s going, in the end, but I don’t follow a chapter-by-chapter outline. I like to have some freedom to create a new twist here and there.
Oh, yes, I definitely hear their voices, and they become like friends. It’s difficult, when a manuscript is done, to say good-bye – almost like a little grieving process. I’ll be walking around the house, not sure why I feel sad when I should be excited to have finished a big project. Then I remember, “Gee, I can’t hang out with Jess and Lucius, or Jill and Tristen, anymore.” Very strange. I’ve never argued with a character over plot, though!
6. Who is your favorite character (of your own)?
Lucius will always have a special place in my heart. His voice, “opinions” and “emotions” were SO strong, as I wrote, and I became so empathetic to his emotional battles, that he will always be particularly special to me.
7. What hobbies do you have when you're not writing?
I have two things I consistently love – traveling and pushing physical boundaries, like with the triathlon. Beyond that, I’m one of those people who bounces from interest to interest. I spent a few years studying Mandarin Chinese, made it halfway to a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and most recently decided it was time to take horseback riding lessons. I’m kind of a dabbler.
8. If you had not become a writer what would you have done instead?
Wow… I have no idea. Writing’s all I’ve ever done. Even the teaching I do involves writing. I probably would have done something travel-related though. Anything that would let me get new stamps on my passport.
9. Where can readers find you online?
10. Your turn. What question do you have for readers of Want My YA?
Although lots of people read YA (including myself!) this one’s for the core YA audience, in high school and junior high, because that’s where my novels are largely set. What is one thing you would change about your school experience, if you could?