I’ll start by stealing a favorite question from your own author interviews. Tell me about your book in seven words or less:
Two sisters who don’t feel like enough.
I know you’re a huge fan of fast drafting. What are three benefits/advantages of drafting a novel in one month? Was Never Enough a product of Nanowrimo?
I have written a few novels that will never see the light of day. The biggest advantage of fast-drafting for me, is that each of these novels have only really wasted a month of my time. One other huge thing I learned from NaNoWriMo was to always move forward with my writing. In the past, I’ve gotten stuck on certain scenes and chapters, spent a long time just trying to get them right, only to delete them later because they didn’t actually further the story.
In Losing Faith and Never Enough, you’ve touched on some sensitive issues. Do you choose your ideas and subject matter or do they choose you?
Oh, they most definitely choose me. Usually an idea or character gets under my skin and just won’t let go of me until I write about it. In the case of Never Enough, I was living with a girl with a severe eating disorder for a while, and I started writing the story because I wanted to understand her better. I wanted to be a helpful force, rather than a hurtful one in her life.
You’ve confessed to me that you were a reluctant teen reader, what got you reading?
In my twenties, a friend of mine passed along a book to me, Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer, insisting that I read it. I did, and I was completely shocked that reading could be enjoyable and something I could do for FUN. I went right out and bought the sequel.
Your YA Contemporary novels introduce us to multi-dimensional, realistic characters who readers are easily able to connect with. Do they come to you fully drawn or do you use special tools to get to know your characters better?
Usually my main characters come to me fully drawn. I can hear their voices, see their quirks. I kind of feel like I live with them during the time that I’m brainstorming a book. Secondary characters, and especially parents, take more work for me. I use character interviews and different tools to really get to know them. I often write sections from a secondary character’s point of view, just to get to know him or her better.
I know you’re a writer with a rich life and a very busy schedule. What do you say to yourself when your writing/publishing schedule feels overwhelming?
Suck it up, princess. There are plenty of writers who would cut off their right arm to be in your shoes.
But on a more serious note, I had a real rotten year in my personal life last year, and it has helped me put things into perspective. While I’m thrilled to see my books hitting bookstore shelves, I definitely put more of a priority on my family now and don’t feel in such a rush to have multiple books out there.
As creator of the encouraging spring writing challenge, MARCH MADNESS, I know you believe in the importance of a supportive writing group. What are three ways connecting with authors and writers has helped your writing career?
Only three? Yes, I’m a huge believer in having a support network! I have been talked off the ledge many times by writer friends when I was on my hundredth rejection and things looked dismal. I love getting and giving feedback on writing (critiquing someone else’s work teaches me at least as much as having my own work critiqued). Plus, I can honestly say that Losing Faith, my debut novel, would not have enjoyed the success that it has without the help of my awesome network of writers passing along the word about it. So at every stage, from drafting to querying to publishing, the support of other writers is absolutely essential to me.
What’s one question you’re dying to be asked about Never Enough?
Honestly, I feel like I’ve been asked everything under the sun about this book, but here is one of my favorite questions: Have you personally ever suffered from an eating disorder?
Yes and no. I have definitely had unhealthy ways of looking at food and at my body over the years. For several years, I was involved with producing bodybuilding and fitness competitions with my husband, and even competing in a few fitness competitions myself. I have since come to the conclusion that I don’t think that’s a healthy lifestyle for most women. Putting your body on display to be judged is like playing with the fire of a woman’s emotions. I became extremely regimented with my diet and extremely critical of my body. If it wasn’t for the friend of mine who came into my life around that time suffering from a severe eating disorder, I have no doubt that I could have gone down that route myself.
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