5 things readers would be surprised to know about you:
1) I will never, never, never pierce my ears.
2) I’m completely blind—my vision’s 20/700!—and while I really do love my glasses these days (I chucked my contacts a few years ago), I’m rarely photographed wearing them.
3) My favorite non-writing gig was working as a model for a floral show—I wore a hideous blue bridesmaid’s dress, but I got to be with some super-cool florists whose bouquets were WAY artistic.
4) I far prefer vintage to new—costume jewelry, instruments, hats—anything that’s already lived a life or two before I acquired it.
5) I really, honestly think dandelions are beautiful.
4 things you wish you knew in high school:
1) Parallel parking never gets any easier. NEVER.
2) Anything in life is bearable if you just keep your sense of humor.
3) Latin will come in handy. Seriously.
4) Those notebooks I doodled poetry and character sketches in throughout high school would turn out to be INVALUABLE as I wrote that first YA novel. (If I could, I’d go back to high school and kiss me for keeping all those notebooks—really helped me reconnect with my teen voice. Might’ve written even MORE back then, if I’d had a way to see into the future…)
3 things you are embarrassed to own / love / have done:
1) Spiral perm, circa ’88.
2) When I was younger, I HATED wearing my glasses. Mom wanted me to be in high school before I started wearing contacts, so I used to pick out the most HIDEOUS frames on the planet, in order to try to guilt my mom into buying me contacts a few years early. Yeah. That didn’t work so well.
3) My brother and I used to make up stories and act them out on cassette tapes when we were kids…My mom has them all in a drawer. It was great fun, but think I might be kind of embarrassed to listen to myself play-act when I was so young…
2 careers you might have chosen if you weren’t an author:
1) Literature professor
1 thing you can’t live without:
Coffee, coffee, coffee…
5 words to describe your book:
Does art free or cripple? Okay—that’s vague. I’ll explain:
In A BLUE SO DARK, Aura Ambrose is terrified that her mother, a schizophrenic and an artist, is a mirror that reflects her own future. As the novel progresses, we find Aura struggling with her overwhelming desires to both chase artistic pursuits and keep madness at bay.
As her mother sinks deeper in the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet keeps drawing Aura toward the depths of her imagination—the shadows of make-believe that she finds frighteningly similar to her mother’s hallucinations.
Convinced that creative equals crazy, Aura shuns her art, and her life unravels in the process….
Essentially, for Aura, art and madness are inextricably linked. And there’s no denying that many of our great artists have been both creative AND mad…so, for her, the central question is, DOES ART FREE OR CRIPPLE?
4 reasons you love writing YA:
1) YA literature still respects plot, in a way a lot of literary adult fiction doesn’t.
2) I still feel seventeen—so close to my own teenage experiences.
3) YA encompasses SO many genres—it can be almost anything.
4) YA has the best fans going!
3 reasons everyone should read your book:
1) It’s lyrically written.
2) It’s brimming with realistic characters you will fall in love with and root for.
3) It’ll make you feel…well, everything. You’ll laugh and you’ll think and you’ll cry. I guarantee.
2 YA books you adore:
1 (contemporary) ELSEWHERE, Gabrielle Zevin
2 (classic) CATCHER IN THE RYE , JD Salinger
1 tip for aspiring YA writers:
Don’t take criticism personally, but don’t ignore it, either. Think of it the same way you would if you were, say, trying to fix your lawnmower. I mean, if you spent all afternoon working on it, and it STILL refused to start after you got it put back together, you wouldn’t think the lawnmower was attacking you personally, or telling you that you were stupid or completely inept, right? You’d just think you’d screwed up somewhere. Time to take it apart and start again—no biggie.
Same with a manuscript. Nobody gets it right the first time. And nobody’s born knowing how to write a novel. You learn by doing…and by listening. If an editor (or agent) has taken time out of his / her day to give you advice, that’s a real compliment. Listen. Internalize it. Revise accordingly. And be grateful that someone sees potential in your work!
Every writer gets there eventually…the only way you DON’T is by giving up.