1. When you were my age (10), did you like to read?
Yes! I’ve always loved reading. In fact, I used to beg my parents for books constantly. Sometimes we’d go to the bookstore, and I’d pore over the shelves trying to decide which one book I wanted most of all. And at least once a week, we’d go to the library, and I’d grab a huge stack of books to take home and devour.
2. What is a book that made an impact on you?
Grimm’s fairytales made a huge impact on me. My gram read me these stories when I was a kid, and I think they brought out my love of reading (and writing). I would fall asleep listening to my gram’s voice, and these tales made my imagination run wild with stories of my own.
3. Is it hard to come up with book ideas?
Coming up with book is probably my favorite part of writing, likely because I enjoy daydreaming so much. I love the possibility of starting a new story and getting to know the characters and building the atmosphere of the world. Asking what if, what if, what if…
For The Bone Garden (2019), the story stemmed from the very first line, and then I had to find out what happened next. For The Forest of Stars (2020), the idea came to me while I was writing a completely different book, which included a fairytale about a girl who could float among the stars—and I thought that little story would be so much fun to write! For The Plentiful Darkness (2021), the idea sparked from a dream I had one night about a magician and a dark, dark world.
Sometimes the hardest thing for me is choosing which story to tell and then sticking with it until it’s finished. All my other ideas keep tumbling around in my head and want to be put on paper too, instead of waiting patiently.
4. How do you find a balance between spooky and scary?
When I sit down to write, I try to find that place where dark and light, spooky and hopeful tangle together. I want my readers to walk along with my characters, wondering what’s around the corner and then not being too afraid to turn the page and find out. To me, spooky means readers might be wary of the shadows, but they’re brave enough to poke at them, while scary makes you want to cover your eyes and hide!
5. Is there a new or lesser known author you think kids should be aware of?
One of my favorite middle grade reads is Just South of Home by Karen Strong, whose book debuted in 2019. It’s full of ghosts, and red velvet cake, and lots and lots of heart. It’s also one of those stories that’s not necessarily super scary but is definitely spooky (I mentioned ghosts, right?)!
6. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
* Read a lot
* Jot down your ideas as soon as you have them so the seed of the story doesn’t slip away
* Finish what you start
* Get lost in your own stories and have FUN!
7. As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?
Yes, it’s so wonderful to hear from readers! Firstly, because it always makes me happy knowing that someone enjoyed my book. But more importantly, because I write for kids and I want them to be happy. If my words make readers shiver at a spooky scene or feel hopeful or brave or laugh out loud, then all the work that went into writing the story is worth it.
8. If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?
Oh, this is a tough choice. The Wizard of Oz has always been a favorite of mine, so I would definitely love to portal into that world, stroll down the yellow brick road, and find an adventure (and some new friends!) in the Emerald City. (Instead of Toto, I’d have to bring my cats, of course—Elly and Ava!)
If I were to step into one of my own books, I’d choose The Forest of Stars. Deep in the Spark Woods sits a carnival that opens its gates at night and holds all manner of magic, marvels, and mystiques—including a girl whose feet never touch the ground, a shadow spinner, and a misfortune teller.