What were some of your favourite novels when you were a teen?
Meg Cabot! She writes some really great female leads with heroines who become increasingly assertive and confident. My favorites have to be the Mediator and the 1-800-Where-R-U series. Suze and Jess deal with these crazy intense situations and yet they remain classy and strong. And the guys? Let’s just say I’ve spent more than a few hours swooning over Jesse and Rob.
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is amazing but one of the most intense reading experiences of my life. It’s a brilliant account of a girl dealing with the aftermath of rape. This novel isn’t one you should pick up lightly, but if you think you can handle it, I highly recommend it. Definitely changed my life.
More recent finds for teens: Ally Carter’s The Heist Society. Erica O’Rourke’s Torn, Jennifer Estep’s Touch of Frost, Brigid Kemmerer’s Storm (Not yet released), and Nina Berry’s Otherkin (Not yet released). All excellent female driven stories that you won’t want to put down. (Side note: I only recommend really nice authors, the type who will probably tweet you back if you track ‘em down on Twitter. Personally, I find reading a great novel even more rewarding when it’s written by a genuinely kind individual. So let’s support them by buying their books!)
Who is your favourite character and why?
Um…I really love them all. So it’s almost impossible to pick a favorite! I’m writing about Chelsea right now so the two of us currently have a very special bond. But I think I have to choose Dominic Wyatt (brief appearance in Awkward but the leading man in Decked with Holly) because he was so much fun to write. Snarky, sweet, and so ridiculously sexy. Or at least that’s how I see him!
Describe your writing process.
Erm, I start my day with Starbucks? I do my best work when I am caffeinated and surrounded by strangers. The sticking point for me is usually ambient noise. I tend to get distracted if I’m in a quiet room. I’ll start reading a book instead of, you know, writing one. I tend to procrastinate and then it sort of clicks and I’m able to make up for all that lost time. Although was it really lost? I’ve read a lot of fun books because of it!
If you could cast your own Mackenzie Wellesley, which actress would it be and why?
Okay, it would be awesome to have one of my books turned into a movie. And I’m pretty sure I’d be thrilled with any actress they found to play Mackenzie. I think you have to accept with book adaptations that the final product is going to be different from the book. So if they cast someone who doesn’t look the way I imagined Mackenzie, I’d be okay with that.
But we’re talking dream cast.
So I think Shailene Woodley
or Hailee Steinfeld would be awesome.
They both seem like genuinely nice people who could play geeky and awkward without going over the top and becoming annoying.
How did you come up with the plot of Awkward?
I was trying to publicize my autobiography Marni and I was getting frustrated with the amount of effort it takes to promote something. It’s hard! I was all pumped to share my story and try to make a difference in the world . . . but Oprah wasn’t exactly hoping to interview me. Anyhow, it got me wondering what would happen if I had the opposite problem. What if my goal in life was to fly under the radar and then suddenly (by no fault of my own) I became an overnight celebrity? What would that be like? Plot-wise I was clueless. All I knew was that I wanted her to become famous and then . . . for other stuff to happen. I honestly never know how one of my books is going to end until I’m almost finished with it. Character-wise I definitely see a lot of myself in Mackenzie (although she is way cooler,
in my opinion) but I see parts of me in most of my characters. I’m writing about Chelsea now and I never thought I would think we had anything in common but we do! Lots as it turns out! Including the unfortunate fact that we are both a little bit too in love with Logan Beckett.
Would you write any other genres other than YA Contemporary?
Yes! That said: I love YA contemporary. I don’t plan to leave it behind anytime soon—if ever! But I might try my hand at writing romance novels. I also might explore screenwriting. There are too many amazing opportunities in life for me to say definitively that I will never explore other genres.
But readers should definitely expect to see more YA contemporary books from me!