I currently live in Atlanta, Georgia. I’m a writer and freelance editor, and I spend way too much time hugging dogs instead of working.
My debut novel, GIRL OUT OF WATER, is a summery coming-of-age story about a California surfer girl sent to landlocked Nebraska for the entire summer. It debuted in May 2017. You can order it from most book retailers and of course request it at your local library! My second novel, YOU ASKED FOR PERFECT, is about the effects of intense academic pressure on a teenage Valedictorian-to-be.
I have degrees in English and Advertising from the University of Georgia, and I have an MFA in Writing for Children from the New School. While I lived in NYC, I interned at Penguin and two different literary agencies. In addition to writing, I also freelance edit manuscripts and query letters. I particularly love helping with those query letters!
If you weren’t a writer, what career would you see yourself wanting to have? Any unusual hobbies?
Before I went to graduate school for my MFA in Creative Writing, my plan was to go into advertising as a copywriter – which is still writing for a living but something that’s a lot more stable than publishing haha! I don’t have any usual hobbies I can think of…perhaps it’s a little unusual that I really enjoy sending out actual physical letters to people? I love collecting cute stationery and stickers and mailing off a letter to brighten someone’s day!
How do you manage to create a character well enough to connect with the readers? Do you feel the sorrow, happiness, madness, or love as you construct them?
I put a lot of working into developing and getting to know my characters. I’m constantly asking myself what they want and why they want it, what they like and why they like it, what they fear and why they fear it, etc. It literally takes months, but eventually I’ll know my character well enough that I feel completely connected to them and know what their reaction will be to each moment in the book. And I definitely feel their emotions. Unfortunately, Ariel spends a large portion of this book really stressed out, and I felt every single drop of anxiety right along with him. But thankfully there are some happy and swoony moments I got to experience as well!
What was the toughest thing you had to go through when writing You Asked for Perfect?
This writing process was much more difficult than my first book. Writing is rewriting, but with Girl Out of Water, I never had to look at a draft and rewrite the whole thing from scratch – from draft one I was able to just edit and shape what I already had. With You Asked for Perfect, I’m pretty sure I wrote the book almost from scratch five times. I knew the character, but the plot wasn’t working, and I had to cut and rewrite again and again and again. It was a lot of work, but I’m so proud of the result.
What do you hope readers will take away from You Asked for Perfect?
Your grades do not define you! We put so much pressure on teens to take hard classes, get good grades, and get into a select university, and while education is definitely important, it should never be this all-consuming pressure in your life. I hope the adults who read this book also understand that message and stop contributing to the pressure on the teens in their lives.
When you’re writing a book, where do you get your main ideas? How do you plan the sequence of events, length, and other key facets of a novel?
I wish I could outline a book, but it’s never worked for me before. I write from getting to know the character, and once I understand them inside and out, I let them take the lead. But if I had a good answer to the planning question, I probably wouldn’t have had to rewrite the book so many times!
Who was the first character you ever created/invented?
Oh gosh, I honestly can’t remember! I’ve been writing since I was a little kid, so I’m not sure who the first was.
What are some of your favorite authors and book genres?
I read a lot of YA contemporary books, but I do love reading all genres. There are too many favorite books in the world to pick, so I like highlighting recent favorites instead: BLACK WINGS BEATING, THE WICKED KING, WHAT IF IT’S US, and EMERGENCY CONTACT. I also just purchased THIS IS KIND OF AN EPIC LOVE STORY and can’t wait to read it!
Read more about YOU ASKED FOR PERFECT :
INTERVIEW : YA SH3LF