Tell us a little bit about The Boy I Love, which came out Sep. 2nd.
It’s a novel for teens about prejudice, secrets, and friendship. I structured it around a situation that feels familiar at first – a love triangle – but tried to take it in new and different directions than the reader would expect.
How is this book different from what you’ve written in the past?
I have lived in the South for eleven years, but this is the first time I’ve set a book in the South. There are loblolly pines and Spanish moss and even an alligator.
What inspired you to write this latest book?
Oh, the state of the world, its divisiveness, and the ridiculous reasons people come up with to hate each other.
How would you describe your writing process? Where do you write? When do you write?
I try to write every morning, and my process is pretty straightforward. If I’m not under a deadline, I make myself write until I’ve produced 1,000 words. But if I’m writing under a deadline, or if I get inspired, I’ll write much more than that.
As to where I write, it varies. I have an office corner set up in our guestroom but I never use it. Usually I’m in the living room or at the dining room table. I tend to write first drafts in bed. It makes the process a little like convalescing, you can’t get up until the book is done.
What are you reading right now?
I’m teaching a graduate class in Young Adult fiction, so I’ve been rereading a lot of great YA. This week it’s Monster by Walter Dean Myers. So far we’ve read If I Love You Am I Trapped Forever? by M.E. Kerr, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Up next, The Giver by Lois Lowry.
Do you have any advice for writers hoping to publish their first book?
Work on the draft until you absolutely can’t work on it anymore, make sure it’s as strong as you can make it on your own. Read extensively, and research the authors whose work you think is similar to yours – the editors and agents who like their writing might like yours, too.
Are there any upcoming events or plans we should know about?
Mostly just writing and teaching and being a mom. I have a novel coming out next fall with Algonquin, the title is still a work in progress.