I've been writing as far back as I can remember. When I was like four, I used to come up with silly poems my parents would write down and I of course wrote notebooks full of Very Serious Poetry in high school. I wrote short stories and such in my late teens and twenties, but, and here's the strange part: I did not consider becoming a writer until I was in my mid-twenties and in college, and then it was journalism that captivated me. I don't know what I was thinking in those early days. I just liked writing. I never thought about it going anywhere. I took three years off before going to college and when I finally started school, I planned to study pre-med and become a doctor. That plan fizzled after about six months and I wound up taking journalism classes just for the hell of it and realized that journalism combined my love of travel and my love of meeting new people and my love of writing. But again, I didn't really see myself as a fiction writer. I was a journalist for more than ten years before I ever thought about writing a novel.
What inspired you to write If I Stay?
Who is your favorite author and why?
I just finished "You Don't Love Me Yet" by Jonathan Lethem, which came out a few years ago. My husband picked it up for me. It was great. And I'm about to go on tour so I binged and bought three YA books, "The Perks of Being A Wallflower" by Stephen Chobsky, which everyone tells me is amazing and I have to read; "Living Dead Girl", by Elizabeth Scott, who I love, though I've put off reading this one because I have a daughter and wasn't sure I could take (still not sure). And Blake Nelson's latest novel "Destory All Cars."
What are your current projects?
I am working on my next novel, working on a couple of magazine pieces, and promoting "If I Stay." I'm about to go on tour to Europe for two weeks, which is very exciting.
The books are a constant source of surprise because you never quite know where the writing process is going to take you. The idea for "If I Stay" really began with Mia, who arrived, fully formed, as a cellist. That was a huge surprise because I knew nothing about the cello, nothing about classical music. But that was who she was and I had no choice but to learn about these things to write her. For me, as I write, the characters reveal themselves to me and that is just as surprising as getting to know a true flesh-and-blood stranger. So it's a fun, illuminating process, full of twists.
Sometimes letting go of your characters is hard. And letting go can mean different things. Sometimes it's admitting that a project you're working on just isn't working, and that happens to me all the time. I have a driveways worth of rusting wreck drafts lingering on my hard drive. And even with a "successful" book, you have to at some point let the characters go; they cease to become yours and they become your readership's. As a writer, that is what you hope for, but it's hard when suddenly the world you have created is open to feedback. It's nice, though, when that feedback is positive.
Hang out with my family. The days when we are outside, away from the computers, just tooling around Brooklyn, are the best and are when I'm at my happiest. Nothing compares to that.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I get asked a lot of questions and you asked some unusual ones here. I get asked all the time if there is going to be a sequel but nobody asks me what how I think the characters in "If I Stay" fare in the future. Which is funny because I've thought about that a lot. See what I mean about letting go? It's hard.