1. Your debut YA book—FOLLOWING CHELSEA—just debuted on October 17th. Can you tell us about your road from starting the story to getting it published?
It was a long and winding road! (But that’s probably true of many stories.) I wrote FOLLOWING CHELSEA in 2008, signed with an agent and worked on revisions with her, but then ended up parting ways with the agent. I shelved the story while I wrote other things, but came back to it a couple times over the next few years. Then Evernight Teen put out a call for submissions, and FOLLOWING CHELSEA seemed like it might be a good fit. Turned out, it was! I’m thrilled it found a good home.
2. As a debut novelist, what advice would you give to YA writers who are hoping to get their first book published?
Keep reading, keep writing, find good critique partners, and don’t let the waiting get you down. ☺
3. I love this one-sentence description about your book: Walking in the footsteps of a dead girl isn’t easy. What did you learn in the process of writing this particular story?
I learned a lot about revising, for sure, but maybe one of the most helpful things was the importance of knowing the “story kernel,” the heart, the one thing that your story boils down to, even if you end up cutting or changing almost everything else. With FOLLOWING CHELSEA, that one-sentence description was something I could keep coming back to, and it would bring me back from wandering down tangents, keeping me on track with revisions.
4. What are some recent YA reads that you’ve loved?
- Leila Sales’ THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE
- Cat Hellison’s HOUSE OF SAND AND SECRETS
- Jeri Smith-Ready’s THIS SIDE OF SALVATION
- Tess Sharpe’s FAR FROM YOU
- Eagerly awaiting A.S. King’s GLORY O’BRIEN’S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE (which I’m including in this list because I know I’m going to love it, lol . . . I love all her work!)
5. Now that your first book is out, are there plans for a second book in the works?
Nothing under contract yet, but I’m working on another YA, and I have a MG verse novel that I’m kind of in love with—hoping it finds a home soon!