The lovely and talented Birdy Jones (pictured left) — who’s also my crit partner — tagged me in this blog tour, but before I answer the questions, I want to take a moment to plug her incredible picture book, “Mr. Cool,” which will be published Jan. 6 by Pow! Books.
I strongly encourage you to embrace your inner cool and pre-order Mr. Cool here.
Now, on to the tour!
1. What am I working on?
Right now I’m riding the high of that first draft. I’m working on another YA contemp that draws on some of my high school experiences — namely, an epic fast-food prank war I was involved in with Hardee’s when I was 16 and working as a Schlotzsky’s cashier. I’m having a lot of fun with this project because I’m getting to play with words in multiple languages. And then there’s the boy. He’s such a beautiful charming weirdo. And he hikes. If I were a fictional teenage girl, I’d totally date this fictional teenage boy — even despite that ridiculous hat he wears.
2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I’m actually going to answer this question by referencing my previous project, RJ, which is without a doubt the book of my heart. I think what makes it stand out is that it’s told from the viewpoint of a teenage synesthete — a teenage synesthete who doesn’t have superpowers or communicate with supernatural beings as most other YA books that feature synesthetes do.
Also, RJ is a little different because of how it explores issues of faith and spirituality. Although this aspect of the story doesn’t sit right with everyone, my readers who have struggled with their beliefs said they found my protagonist’s journey to be very relatable. Perhaps most importantly, my cousin — whose life story I stole for a big character — felt like I’d captured her personal journey. Her experiences are something I’ve never seen in YA before, and her story is one that demands to be told. Of course, I tell her story by turning my female cousin into a super cute hipster boy with a ponytail and glasses, but luckily, she doesn’t seem to mind.
3. Why do I write/create what I do?
I write my stories because I can’t not write my stories. I know that’s a total cop-out of an answer, but it’s entirely true. When an idea or a character lodges itself my brain, I can’t ignore it. Some stories just demand to be written, and I’m happy to oblige.
4. How does my writing/creative process work?
When an idea comes to me and I start to lose myself in it — as in, I arrive at work without remembering the drive or I find myself shampooing my hair three times in a row during a far-from-sustainable shower — I know the story idea is going to stick. At that point, I continue to let my mind wander until vivid scenes appear in my brain and I’m hearing the dialogue and feeling the same range of emotions my soon-to-be-written characters experience. Before long, the new story has a playlist (there’s always a playlist) and a full cast of people that fascinate me.
At that point, I allow myself to explore this new world for a few chapters, but once I’ve made my way to the inciting incident, I force myself to pull back. At that time, the mandatory plotting comes into play. I don’t think I’m a natural plotter; however, I find that plotting is a necessity. It keeps me on track, so I make myself sit down and work on fitting my outrageous, convoluted plot (seriously, everything in my early stages of writing is so overly complicated because my brain is all “WHAT ABOUT THIS AND THIS AND THIS”) into Larry Brooks‘ story structure.
From there, it’s good days where the words spill out, as well as bad days where writing truly feels like work. But eventually that utterly flawed — and, in my case, entirely too long — first draft is done. Then it’s time to move onto revisions. But I’ll save that lengthy explanation for another day.
Although I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, I now live in the north of England, where I get paid to Tweet, Tumblr, and Instagram. I’m also a YA writer, represented by Emily Keyes of The L Perkins Agency.
When I’m not glued to my computer, I love reading lots of books and consuming an unhealthy amount of Starbucks. I’m also a travel junkie, and it’s one of my missions in life to fill up every page on my passport.