1. Why do you write?
The writing books and experts tell you to write for yourself. Do it because the words have to come out, the story must be told. But to be perfectly honest I love the reactions. Hearing that someone stayed up all night to finish your book is priceless. Learning that three generations of the same family all enjoyed your work is pretty cool. Of course, that only comes at the end of the process and is balanced out by piles of rejection letters and less than stellar reviews, but the buzz you get when someone tells you they loved your book makes it all worthwhile.
2. How many books have you written?
One published (Paraglide), one that I’m working on, and one in the bottom of a box in the basement that no one will ever see.
3. What inspired you to write your (latest) book?
My daughter’s admonition to “write faster.”
4. What is your favorite genre to read?
I try to read everything: fiction, non-fiction, magazines, newspapers(yes they still exist), cereal boxes, everything I can get my hands on. As a kid I loved science fiction and read it to the exclusion of everything else. Now I seek out mysteries, travel writing and the literary classics I missed the first time around. And being a writer of young-adult provides a wonderful excuse to sample some of the fabulous work being done in that genre.
5. Is your writing style at all influenced by those of your favorite authors?
Of course. My style is influenced by all my experiences: the people I talk to, the TV shows I watch and most definitely the books I read. I’ve heard of authors who refuse to read anything while they’re in the middle of a project for fear of corrupting their own style, but I can’t imagine locking myself in a closet for the sake of purity. I learn so much from writers at the top of their craft. They provide fantastic lessons I wouldn’t want to miss.
6. Which is your favorite book that you’ve written?
Usually whatever I’m working on at the moment. If it’s not, you know there is a problem.
7. What is your opinion of the art of writing?
It’s a learning process that comes from doing, from sitting down and writing. Every time I finish something I gain new insights, new aha moments. That’s happened enough times now that I realize I’ll never be complete as a writer. There’s always something new to be learned.
8. What advice would you give someone who is just beginning their own novel?
Sit your butt down and start writing. And then keep writing. Everyday if you can. Set goals for yourself—xx number of words per week, xx number of hours per day. The hardest thing about writing a novel is that you won’t finish in a day or a week, or probably even a month. It takes persistence and patience.
9. Do you have any funny and / or interesting stories about how you’ve come up with plots or characters?
I love to incorporate places I’ve lived or traveled to. While fiction is by definition make believe, visualizing my characters walking down a real street helps me ground them and see them as more complete, genuine individuals. A strong location can also influence or guide your plot in unexpected ways. In Paraglide, the main characters travel from London to Tuscany to Switzerland. I’ve been lucky enough to visit to all of those destinations and they molded the events in the story and ultimately provided the title of the book.
10. Coke or Pepsi?