1. When you were my age (9), did you like to read?
2. What is a book that made an impact on you?
The book that had the greatest impact on me was The Hobbit, by Tolkien. But the one I want to give a shout-out to here is The Lottery Rose, by Irene Hunt. It’s the first book I ever read that made me cry. Up until that point, I didn’t realize that a story could have such a profound effect on my emotions.
3. Is it hard to come up with book ideas? Like how did you think to mix foster kid with Witness Protection?
I find generating ideas to be both easy and fun…the trick is finding one that will actually make a good book. That’s harder, since I don’t really know if an idea is novel-worthy until I try to plot it out. That’s quite a bit harder, and it takes lots of work. However, nothing beats the feeling of finishing an outline and realizing you’ve got a potential story on your hands (except maybe the feeling of publishing one!)
4. What author or book have read recently that impacted you?
I recently read Catherine Gilbert Murdock’s The Book of Boy, and I loved it. Both my undergraduate and graduate degrees are in medieval European history, so to read a book centered in that time period – and a fantasy novel rooted in relic culture, no less! – was great fun. It was also a reminder of the myriad ways we can access history to tell compelling stories.
5. Is there a new or lesser known author you think kids should be aware of?
When I was a kid, I was a huge fan of choose-your-own-adventure novels. They’ve started making a bit of a comeback, so I think I’d let kids know about a guy whose books I absolutely devoured when I was a kid. His name’s Joe Dever, and he wrote a massive CYOA adventure series – one in which the choices you made in the first book could impact the narrative in the fifteenth book. I still own all my old copies, and was pleased to discover that his work is available online for free, too (check out www.projectaon.org).
6. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
Find an audience for your stuff, and share it frequently. Get good at seeking critique and accepting feedback. The quicker you learn to look at your writing as a living thing, always evolving and improving, the easier it will be for you to embrace the revision process. That’s vital, because it’s in revision that the real work (and a lot of the real joy) of our profession lies.
7. As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?
I do hear from readers, and I absolutely adore it. My favorite thing about responses from fans is their questions; I love giving them the inside scoop on tidbits that might not have made it into the novels. It lets me revisit the stories in a fun way, and they sometimes even inspire me to think about a character, plot thread, or setting in a new light.
8. If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?
I think anyone who says anything other than Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is either lying or hasn’t thought carefully enough about the question.