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Tell me a little about you:
My friends call me the game master. I love playing games. For video games, I prefer the silly, fun ones like Lego Harry Potter. For board games, it depends on the group – you have to read the room. But I do love games where you get to lie to your friends, because that’s something I don’t do in my real life, and I’m so good at it!
– When you were my age (9), did you like to read?
I’ve always been a voracious reader, with a lot of science fiction and fantasy. Everything from Lord of the Rings to Danny Dunn and the Time Machine. I was always bugging my mom to take me back to the library.
– What was your favorite author or book?
One of my favorites was the Choose Your Own Adventure books. I would read them over and over, then scan through to make sure I’d found every ending. You can see the consequences of this in my own book, which has hidden pages that are not part of the main story. I love the idea that people will get to the end, then wonder if they did something wrong because they never visited the 1970’s.
– how do you get your story ideas?
I love puzzles, so I set myself a challenge. In this case, it was why would it make sense for a book to start in the middle? And the next challenge, or puzzle, was to block it all out so that the time travel makes sense, even when our heroes are running into themselves over and over in the middle of their adventure. Also, when I was young, I used to have dreams that were cliffhangers. I’d find myself in an impossible situation, like trapped in a room with the water rising, or with the earth being surrounded by aliens and no way to fight them. And I wouldn’t know how to get out of it. So I’d tell my subconscious to work on it, and later on – sometimes a week later, sometimes months or a year – I’d have a dream where I found my way out of it. And I still do that today – I’ll tell my subconscious to work on a problem and I’ll check back with it later.
– is it hard to write a book?
Yes and no. The actual writing isn’t so difficult. I think I have a way with words. But one of my big problems is that my characters tend to be very passive, like myself. Which does not usually make for a good protagonist. You usually want someone with a clear goal and obstacles to overcome, not just swept along by events.
– what authors do you like right now? Any lesser known ones you can recommend?
My favorite current author is Lisa Lutz, author of The Spellman Files and The Passenger and her one subversive kid’s book, How to Negotiate Everything. She writes characters that feel very real, but are caught up in a mystery. She can be laugh-out-loud funny or dark and unsettling. Read her books! They are amazing. I also recently read the Origami Yoda series of books, which were funny and geeky and had great life lessons without being preachy.
– what is the best part of being an author?
Hearing that someone enjoyed what I wrote. I had an early version of Time Sandwich kinda just stapled together with clip art I grabbed off of the internet, and I gave it to my landlord’s kid, and she told me later that he read it over and over. That was extremely gratifying, and part of what motivated me to actually get the book finished. On the other hand, I’m not great at receiving compliments, so if you like the book, let me know in an email. P.S. When I got the advance copies of Time Sandwich, I gave that kid the first one.
– any advice for a kid who wants to be an author?
I’m thinking it would help to partner with someone. If you like to write and your friend likes to draw, then collaborate. Or partner with an adult who will help keep you on track, but not just do the work for you.
– If you could portal into any of your works, which would you portal into?
I’m obsessed with time travel, so it would have to be this book, Time Sandwich. See dinosaurs? Ride futuristic roller coasters? Get stuck in a time loop for all of eternity? Count me in!