1. Is this the first book you have written?
No! I wrote a middle grade vampire adventure right as Twilight came out, and publishers were more intersted in vampire romance. And then I wrote a middle grade adventure about a long forgotten Irish treasure based on a true legend. I could wallpaper a room with all of my rejection letters!
2. Where do you write?
I write in a bunch of
different places. If I have the house to myself, I write at the kitchen
island with a big cup of tea and my green notebook, where I jot down
phrases or descriptions that I like. I also take my notebook outside,
and try to capture what I see, hear and smell. I especially like to walk
with my dog, Riley, in the woods, and pay attention to the light and
shadows, and the sounds around me.
3. What gave you the idea for The Exceptionals?
Growing up, my father often told me that we only use ten percent of our brain power. I often wondered, can some people use more? What can they do? Did Einstein use more of his brain than most people – and what about mediums? This became the foundation for The Exceptionals: a school for students who have “special” abilities. But clearly this sort of power comes with those who would abuse it; hence the struggle at the core of the book between good and evil.
4. Was your mother like Maura Crane?
Absolutely not! I am a huge Harry Potter fan, and I always wondered what Professor McGonagall would be like as a mother. The character I conjured up is Maura. She is tough, but she loves and supports her kids.
5. Are you in any of the characters?
No. I wish I was more like Claire, who is so strong, or even better -- Winny! Winny is always herself, and she doesn’t care at all what other people think of her. She is absolutely comfortable in her own skin.
6. Can you describe the writing process for The Exceptionals?
I actually did not write it in order. The first thing I wrote was a scene with Claire and Dylan near the end. Basically, I wrote down all the parts I was dying to write first, so that I could take my time with the rest of the story. I do always read the dialogue out loud, and then the finished manuscript. Reading dialogue really helps. You can tell immediately if it’s authentic. And reading the whole novel out loud not only helps me catch mistakes, it is easier to identify areas where the flow is not so good.
7. You’re an animal lover?
Yes! Darwin is based on Riley, our rescue Golden Retriever, and Tabby is based on my cat growing up, Muffin. He was terrible! He tormented the poor dog next door.
8. Do you have any advice for writers?
Yes! You'll find links to blogs I've written about writing and the writing process on the Appearances page of this website. My main bit of advice is, if you love to write, write. Don't let anyone stop you or tell you that you're not good enough, smart enough, talented enough ... writing and publishing are very different things, and you don't need to be published to be a writer. You just need to write! There are so many wonderful blogs and websites dedicated to every aspect of the writing process. I'm proud to be a part of Adventures in YA Publishing, founded by my friend and critique partner, the amazing Martina Boone. Writer's Digest named it a 101 Best Website for Writers. And if you are looking for some feedback on a story, enter the First Five Pages Workshop where you'll receive critiques from published authors and even a literary agent!
9. Can you read my story?
The answer to this is maybe! I'm the workshop coordinator and a permanent mentor at First Five Pages Workshop. Each workshop participant receives feedback from three published authors on the first five pages of their manuscript, not just for an initial entry, but also for two subsequent revisions. And an agent reviews the final revision. It's an amazing opportunity for aspiring writers!