Born in California and raised in Florida, I’m currently attending Mercer University in Georgia, where I study journalism and creative writing. I’ve found these two seemingly antithetical majors to be wonderfully complementary, and I love that I get to tell stories of all kinds in all sorts of ways.
At Mercer University, I work as the News Editor for our student newspaper, The Cluster. During my time here, I’ve had the chance to intern and complete practicum with outlets including NASA, Georgia Public Broadcasting, The Telegraph, and 13-WMAZ (Macon’s CBS affiliate). I also work on the staff of Mercer’s literary magazine, The Dulcimer, and am a proud scholar of the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes! My parents read to me for as long as I can remember, and I loved books so much that it only felt natural that I’d want to write them myself. It was an abstract dream for a long time, though. I didn’t start seriously writing until I was 15 or 16.
Why do you write for young readers?
Well, I got into this industry fairly young– I signed my first book deal when I was still a teenager, so at that point I was (and still am, to a degree) writing for and from the age in which I understood the world. It would’ve felt strange for me to write about adulthood since I hadn’t experienced it. Regardless, the stories that mean the most to me were the ones I read when I was young, and I wanted to be a part of that!
Where did the idea for The Weight of a Soul come from?
It was a combination of a few ideas floating around my head that came together at the right time. I always wanted to write a story centered around sisters, and I wanted to write about Norse mythology too. I was studying at Oxford and did a unit on Viking history, and it all sort of clicked into place!
How did you develop Lena’s character?
I wanted to write a protagonist who was ambitious, but who also had some massive blind spots that she’s not aware of. Lena wants to lead her village, but very quickly into the story, things go very wrong and she’s forced to reevaluate what she wants the most and if the things she wants are compatible. Most of all, I wanted to watch a character go as far as they can to get what they want– and when it becomes clear that the character will have to fundamentally change who they are in order to get that, what would they do?
Are you surprised by the reaction your book have received?
I try not to read reviews just for my own peace of mind– and I don’t really think that it’s my place as an author to be in the readers’ space– but I have been super blown away by readers who have messaged me their thoughts. I was really excited to hear that they liked the ending, or at least were surprised by it, since it was what I enjoyed writing the most. I knew as I was drafting this story that it wouldn’t appeal to everybody, since it centers around a really strong sibling relationship that not many people have. It’s been a huge relief to hear that readers connected with Lena, even as she descends into the dark. I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to share this story with readers.
What are other authors that you look up to?
Rick Riordan, for sure. Growing up reading his mythology-infused stories definitely set me on my path to do the same thing, both with this book and my debut novel, OUTRUN THE WIND (which was steeped in Greek myth). I love his characters and voice– so much humor and heartache, delicately balanced. I also really admire Leigh Bardugo’s epic worldbuilding skills, and Maggie Stiefvater’s lyrical descriptions.
What are you working on now?
More myth-based stuff, no surprise. I can’t say much and it’s in the very early stages, but I’m having fun!
About The Weight of a Soul
When her sister is found dead under mysterious circumstances, Lena strikes a gruesome deal with the Norse gods to bring her back and finds herself in the middle of an impending doomsday—all while discovering dangerous secrets about her sister’s identity.
When Lena’s younger sister Fressa is found dead, their whole Viking clan mourns—but it is Lena alone who never recovers. Fressa is the sister that should’ve lived, and Lena cannot rest until she knows exactly what killed Fressa and why—and how to bring her back. She strikes a dark deal with Hela, the Norse goddess of death, and begins a new double life to save her sister. But as Lena gets closer to bringing Fressa back, she dredges up dangerous discoveries about her own family and finds herself in the middle of a devastating plan to spur Ragnarök –a deadly chain of events leading to total world destruction. Still, with her sister’s life in the balance, Lena is willing to risk it all. She’s willing to kill. How far will she go before the darkness consumes her?
INTERVIEW : YA SH3LF