I was born the oldest (and continue to be the oldest) daughter of a family that has scattered to: Johannesburg, London, Berlin, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. I have one dashing husband, one pre-K year-old daughter, and one stately shih-tzu named Edith. I’ve written fifteen Young Adult novels plus two middle grade series. My YA titles include Where I Want to Be, Tighter, Picture the Dead, The Julian Game, and, this fall, All You Never Wanted. Find me on my website. Or in a coffeeshop.
Let the conversation begin!
How did you get your start in the writing/publishing world?
I worked there. Macmillan, Clarion, Hyperion. Mostly washing dishes and making beds. But I learned a lot.
My writing wisdom:
I love to read YA by first-time novelists. I think it’s especially valuable and interesting (though sometimes it makes me feel old!) to learn about young adult literature through adults who have recently exited that phase of life. I love the raw energy of a new writer who’s just smacked that first one out of park.
What was your favorite character to write?
The characters that I get flack for—my “unlikeables” are really fun. Jamie in Tighter was an intriguing complexity since she was so mentally fragile. Thea Parrott in All You Never Wanted is a horror and a handful.
Which is your kryptonite, plot or character?
Plot. Specifically last fifty pages. I overwrap it up and try to run. I’m working on this by holding onto drafts longer, not racing to hand it in, taking my time.
Do you read your work out loud?
Yes, in a British accent with a microphone.But sometimes just at my kitchen table.
What do you keep in the trunk of your car?
I keep my worst dread secret—that I don’t know how to drive.
What is your favorite Christmas memory?
Presenting my mother with a sachet made from crushed dandelions and wrapped in damp toilet paper. Beautiful.
What is the most outrageous thing you’ve ever done?
Flying in a helicopter.
If you were in the Miss America talent competition, what would your talent be?
Tap dancing, no doubt.
Two truths and a lie. Go.
I’m little bit shy, and a little bit showoffy. I hold grudges.
What was your favorite TV show when you were growing up?
The Muppet Show when Elton John hosted because I was so madly love with him.
What is your favorite children’s story?
The Velvet Room by Zilpha Keatley Synder. So secret, so poignant. That’s a favorite in an enormous list of favorites.
If you could spend 15 minutes with any living person, who would it be and why?
This is a bad question for me because the people I’d choose would make me very nervous and sweaty and overly excited. Can you speak through a wall?
What article of clothing most closely describes your personality?
My bright pink silk parachute skirt.
How many rings before you answer the phone?
It’s straight into voice mail before I touch that phone. I’m strictly textly.
What is the first thing you think of when you wake in the morning?
First I remember that my home does not have an in-room dining room service option, and I am sad. Then I think: coffffeeeeeee.
If you won a million dollars, what would you do with it?
I’d ask Elton John to sing at my birthday. Yes, the torch burns on.
Who was your favorite teacher and why?
My gym teacher, Mrs. White. She told me she’d never seen such optimism in the face of so little athletic ability.