So, what are you working on now?

(Question from Emily on Twitter. You too can ask me anything.)

I’m so glad you asked. No, really. Because I’m totally in love with what I’ve been working on — both right now (a new book I started with the new year) and the one I recently finished (and is currently out with my agent…wish it luck). Both are middle grade (ages 8+) fantasies, though they are very different.

Why am I so in love with these books? Well, to be honest, after ASK ME I was determined to write an adult book. Crime fiction. I’d had a short story published that had a character I really loved and wanted to expand upon: a female hit man. But, you know, with humour and gory jokes and severed hands in purses. Because that’s how I roll. I worked on that sucker for what felt like ages and nearly finished it. Maybe I will finish it one day (or maybe I’ll re-write it down to be YA, which is more likely) but I had to stop writing it. Maybe I’m too nice. Maybe I’m too silly. But that book was killing me. I’ve never felt so miserable writing anything before. I think I deleted more words than I wrote and that’s not normal for me at all. I draft fairly clean. So I put it in the metaphorical drawer and pulled out some younger ideas I’d been sitting on.

And it was like sparkly unicorn-poop fueled magic. Writing was suddenly something I wanted to do again rather than something I was making myself do. It was fun. And it was something I could share with my son (who is now about to turn 9 and has a weird sense of humour…I wonder where he gets it from).

So, anyway, to actually answer your question…the pitch-y blurb of the book I am working on now would be:

(drumroll)

A lowly apprentice accidentally becomes the world’s greatest wizard and soon finds out it isn’t at all fun when everyone wants something from you. He embarks on an epic adventure to rid himself of his “curse” while dodging jealous wizards, trolls, and scheming gnomes. With his ungrateful and argumentative new friend at his side, who just so happens to almost be a hag, the Kingdoms will never know what hit them.

Or, you know, something like that.

When you were young, did you ever think you were going to be a successful author?

(Question from Beth on Facebook. You too can ask me anything.)

The full question was: When we sat in speech class and you were constantly writing in your notebook, did you know you were going to be a successfully published author? Anything from your notebook published?

Wow, no, I definitely had no idea. I might have hoped that in the back of my mind, but I definitely had no inkling. I generally wrote for myself. There was a lot of turmoil in my life at that time and writing seriously did keep me sane.

I can’t say that anything from any of those notebooks has been published exactly, though I do turn to them for ideas sometimes. I can definitely say that all of that scribbling did help though! The more you write, the better you get at it, same as with everything else…

What is your favorite book?


(Question from Kevin on Facebook, you too can ask me anything)

Everyone asks me that and I have to say that I think it is one of the most evil questions ever because I love books. How can I have a favorite/favourite? Maybe this is why I only have one kid…because I could never choose. 😉 Seriously, though, my fav book changes depending on what mood I’m in. It’s also changed over the years. I have a lot of authors I re-read (like Jane Austen or Piers Anthony or Terry Pratchett or Garth Nix or…I gotta stop now or we’ll be here forever) that have been favs forever and then others that I used to absolutely adore that I now am more picky about (R.A. Heinlein; I still enjoy a lot of his books but there are some like The Number of the Beast that I find really hard to appreciate now even though I loved it SO much when I was a teen. Seriously, I don’t know what I was thinking.) And then there’s Douglas Adams, who I adore, but haven’t actually read in some time (hmm, maybe I need to get on that).

But. Ok. I’ll pick one.

The Princess Bride. Because it’s both an awesome movie and a book (William Goldman wrote both the book and screenplay). There. Don’t tell the other books.

How do you like being an Expat & living in London?

I love it. There’s no other city like it. If I could go back in time and tell my horrible Dick Van Dyke British Accent teenage self that I’d wind up living here, I’d probably faint dead away (no knock on Mr. Van Dyke because he’s still totally awesomesauce but even he’d admit his accent was atrocious). It’s also very interesting being an American abroad. You get a perspective on your home country that you’d never get otherwise. I highly recommend travel. But mostly I love Europe in general: the markets, the diversity, the history…I could go on and on.

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Do you have a favorite YA Lit author interview from your YA Lit days?

(Question from Jeff on Facebook. You too can ask me anything.)

Yes, I do**. I have to say that I absolutely had the most amazing time getting to chat to Clive Barker on the telephone for around an hour or so. I was a bit starstruck, I have to admit, but he was incredibly lovely and nice. We talked a bit about art and painting and storytelling and life. Most of the interviews I did were via email and Clive was one of the few that I actually spoke to on the phone, so perhaps that was part of the difference.

As a funny aside to that, I got to tell him the story of how my husband and I are partly together because of Hellraiser. See, my husband and his roommate in college decided that they were going to meet ALL the girls in our dorm. They spent a week helping girls move in, carrying their stuff up flights of stairs, etc., etc. (somehow they missed helping me with my mini fridge though…). Anyway, at the end of all that, they invited every single girl they had met to a movie night. They rented a VCR (yes, this was a long time ago), which was no easy thing when you were a new college student with no credit card) and a stack of movies.

The Hellraiser movies.

This is the part of their plan that was a bit faulty, I think. Anyway, so there they are, two guys and probably about 20 or 30 girls, having a Hellraiser movie night. I wound up sitting in front of my now-hubby and we’ve been together ever since.

**For those that don’t know, I was the founder of YA Books Central, one of the largest (and pretty much the first) teen lit sites on the Internet. I ran it for over ten years before turning it over to other capable hands (as I was moving to the UK). It’s still going strong, currently under the leadership of C.J. Redwine, who is awesome.

How has moving from the US to England affected your writing?

(Question from Samantha on Facebook…go ahead, you can ask me anything)

That’s a good question. In some ways, not at all. I wrote ASK ME while living here and that book is set in Florida, where I (mostly) grew up. It was a bit odd to be writing about the oppressive muggy heat of Florida while shivering in a pub in London, but I managed. On the other hand, I’m hoping to launch my next book (a middle grade fantasy) here in the UK and am consequently attempting to use more British-style spellings and phrases. It’s been interesting and a bit of a challenge (all the extra u’s!), especially since I can’t for the life of me make Microsoft Word stick to the English UK dictionary! But, in a general sense, traveling and living new places provides you with the opportunity to broaden your horizons, so it is always a good thing.

Did you always want to be a writer?

The short answer: YES. I have always written. I still have my notebooks from when I was a teen/tween (back before they ever labeled you as a “tween”). Writing is what kept me sane. It still does (sort of).

The long answer: Well, yeah, though I also wanted to do a lot of other things. I grew up in a rather non-traditional house as both of my parents were artists of a sort and traveled around to art shows for a living (my mother painted and my father did woodwork). As a teen, I craved a bit more stability and normalcy so I had this idea that I wanted to grow up and have a “normal” job with a steady paycheck and things like that. It didn’t stop me from being an English major at University (and yes, I’ve heard that “Do you want fries with that?” joke many times) but once I graduated I held a series of normal, boring jobs (I worked for a lot of big companies like Ernst & Young, IBM, and AT&T Labs).

I kind of hated it.

When I got the chance to write full time, I jumped on it. So, in some ways, I feel a bit like I’ve come full circle.