Did you always want to become an author?
Yes, ever since I could read. I made my own picture books when I was little.
What do you see as your strengths and weaknesses as an author?
I've always had an ear for dialogue. I'm not as good at description; I really have to pay attention so that my characters don't float invisibly in space, but are people you can visualize in a vivid setting.
What's the most interesting thing a reader has ever said to you?
I love when readers talk about characters as if they're real people: when they argue about what they would do in hypothetical situations, or about what should've happened. My first critiquers had very strong opinions about whom Colt should be with at the end of The Secret Year--but they didn't all agree!
Do you have any must-haves when you're writing?
Not really. I prefer to write on the computer in my home office, with music on, and a glass of water and dark chocolate within reach. But I have written on trains, on beaches, on airplanes, in hotel rooms. I can write longhand when I have to.
How does it feel like, knowing your books are going to be on those bookshelves in a bookstore?
It's still difficult to imagine. But I will be right next to Mandy Hubbard, author of Prada and Prejudice (no, we're not related, but we're friends through the Debut 2009 community), so it will be fun to have a friend "next door!"
Did you base any of your characters on real people?
I deliberately avoid basing characters on real people. But the black-and-white TV in The Secret Year is based on a real black-and-white TV that my husband owned until recently. The shell in Colt's room is based on a shell in my writing office (although I, unlike Colt, have seen the ocean many times). All the books mentioned in The Secret Year--Kerouac's Desolation Angels, Krakauer's Into the Wild, Heller's Catch-22, Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye--are real, and I've read them all.
What are your ten, most favorite things?
I decided to narrow this down and give you ten spectacular places, in no particular order: Paradise, Washington; Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah; Cannon Beach, Oregon; Rome, Italy; Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming; Reykjanesviti, Iceland; Sorrento, Italy; Mount Saint Helens National Monument, Washington; Glacier National Park, Montana; Glen Aulin and May Lake camps in Yosemite National Park, California. I would need ten times as much room to list all the great places I've seen, but those are a few!
Do you have any upcoming books apart from The Secret Year? Are you working on something else?
I'm always working on something. I do have projects underway, but nothing with a concrete publication schedule at this point.