1. Why do you write?
Art should imitate life, to some extent. Unfortunately, the content and subject matter of the majority of young adult and middle grade books do not reflect the diversity of its readers. Therefore, I wanted to write a series that had characters with a range of personalities and diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. However, I also write because I ❤ the art of storytelling. I am the person in the movie theatre admiring the dialogue, cinematography and costumes.
2. How many books have you written?
Thus far, I have written 3 books.
First Book: The Girlz of Galstanberry, which placed as a finalist in the multi-cultural category of the 2011 International Book Awards, was released in 2010. In the debut novel, five dynamic girls from different cities, socio-economic backgrounds and ethnicities receive the coveted Galstanberry acceptance letter. On one unforgettable day-- Sunday, August 29--these five girls leave lasting impressions on family and friends before departing for Connecticut to attend Galstanberry's Orientation on Monday.
Second Book: Galstanberry #2, the second installment in the Galstanberry series, was released in 2011. In the second book, readers are introduced to Galstanberry Girls Academy, an exclusive boarding school in Connecticut, where history, tradition and pearls intertwine. On the eve of Galstanberry's famous pearling ceremony, sixth graders are pulled from their beds. However, this is one among many surprises to come.
Third Book: Galstanberry #3, the third installment in the Galstanberry series, was released July 2012! In the third book, the famous Galstanberry Election season has begun. Although each seat on Student Council is open, the position of 6th grade Class President has captivated everyone’s attention. Within a few weeks, two teams have emerged; Team Tabitha and Team Brandi. Now, each Galstanberry must decide whose team she’s on
3. What inspired you to write your (latest) book?
Fan mail from girls around the country inspired me to write Galstanberry #3. To appease them and make the book even better, I introduced the school’s faculty and gave them unique personalities. Although the book focuses on 5 main characters, I incorporated the secondary characters more.
4. What is your favorite genre to read?
Adult fiction, specifically magic realism. One of my favorite novels is, House of Sprits, by Isabella
5. Is your writing style at all influenced by those of your favorite authors?
Yes. Authors such as Octavia Butler, Isabella Allende and Ralph Ellison have taught me how to vividly describe scenes and add dimensions to characters. Although my books do not have a fantasy element, I have learned how to build a world of Galstanberry Academy for my characters.
6. Which is your favorite book that you’ve written?
Hmm, that’s a difficult question. So far, my favorite book is the third book in the series, Galstanberry #3. And here’s why:
1. Growth: After 2 years and a third book, I have learned to write each of the five main characters more fluidly.
2. Furthering the ‘World of Galstanberry’: In the third book, I expand on the life of a Galstanberry Academy student. From classes, teachers to social moments between the girls, I provide the readers a greater look into the school.
7. What is your opinion of the art of writing?
In my perspective, the art of writing is the ability to paint a picture. As Anton Chkhov poignantly stated, “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” In my books, readers will imagine the lush ivy spiraling around a crimson door or the perfectly pulled bun worn by Dean Simmons—detail is everything. However, one can only paint the picture if they are familiar with the subject matter. I always encourage people to write what they know. Galstanberry Academy is a reflection of my boarding school upbringing and my years at Wellesley College, a prestigious all-women’s college.
8. What advice would you give someone who is just beginning their own novel?
Write all the time and everywhere. Don’t get mired in grammar or correct punctuation...yet. Just get your ideas on paper.
9. Do you have any funny and / or interesting stories about how you’ve come up with plots or characters?
The first book in the series was, in a way, therapeutic. At the time, I was a scientific fellow at the National Institute of Health. My research involved handling mice, which I didn’t like. So, I incorporated that part of my life into the life of Fei, the California breakdancing girl that hates science, especially working in her parents laboratory.
10. Coke or Pepsi?
I ❤ coke.