I've been writing since I was about 5 or 6, just making up stories to make people laugh. I was fortunate in that my family and teachers always encouraged it! I've always been a writer, but it took me a long time to realize that I could actually follow my dream and do it for a living. I've been writing full time for just under 2 years now, and I can't imagine doing anything else!
I used to work for the National Donor Family Council, an organization that supports families after a loved one dies and donates organs or tissues. I met a lot of grieving teens through the Council's programs and events, and their stories of loss and hope always stayed with me. When I began work on Twenty Boy Summer, I wanted to share a little bit of those stories.
Who are your favorite authors and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
My favorite authors include Jack Kerouac, Anais Nin, and Sylvia Plath for their passion and ability to squeeze every bit of life from their hearts on to the page, no matter how painful it was to tell their stories. My favorite young adult author is Sarah Dessen, whose beautiful, down-to-earth storytelling first opened my eyes to YA reads and inspired me to write my own stories about teens.
What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
Well, now I get to work from home with my husband every day, which is amazing and fun! :-) I also get to connect with readers from around the world, which has been incredible and rewarding. And I'm not going to lie -- it's pretty surreal and cool to walk into a book store and see my cover on the shelf! :-)
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I've just started to hear from non-blogger readers and their emails always make my entire month. Generally they take the time to write me if Twenty Boy Summer touched them in some way, or connected with their own experiences and struggles. It's hard to hear about so many teens struggling with grief and loss, but I am grateful that they felt a little less alone when reading about Anna and Frankie in Twenty Boy Summer. I love hearing from readers and I hope that they continue to write.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I just want to thank everyone who has read Twenty Boy Summer. When I started working on the book back in 2003, I never expected that I'd be sitting here one day chatting with readers from all over the world about books and authors and the characters and stories of a book that I wrote. It's really incredible, and this journey wouldn't be possible without you. So... thank you, and happy reading!