Who was the most difficult character (from one of your books) for you to write and why?
Plus honestly, Ethan is from a different time and place. He is by nature not as forthcoming about his emotions, although certainly he has them. So while he does let the reader how he feels about Anne, he does not generally do so with as much, um, zest as Anne does. Actually, book 3 will let you see more of Ethan’s passionate side. I’m really excited about that!
Who was the person or writer who inspired you to write and what was it that was inspiring?
Libba Bray’s use of 1st person and her blend of angst and humor and action in her Great and Terrible Beauty series really informed my sense of YA genre fiction. There are many, many others, but her work comes to mind first.
What is the one book that you wish you had written and why?
She always gets shy and modest when I praise her work, but I truly wish I’d written my friend Lauren Strasnick’s Nothing Like You. It is an amazingly crafted work and Lauren teaches me so much about spare prose. We joke that what she can say in 20,000 words I can say in 80,000. That’s a bit of hyperbole, but I am always in awe of her and how she tells so much in so few words.
When authors create a world for a series there are rules they need to stick with for consistency, are there things you would change in your book world that you didn’t foresee being an issue initially?
I think for the Dreaming Anastasia series, the most daunting issue has been balancing the wide variety of Russian fairy tales and fairy tale characters who work as the motor of the story and weaving them in with (somewhat altered) historical fiction elements concerning the Romanovs. I have Baba Yaga, Vasilisa the Brave, the story of rusalka and in the third book, the story of Koschei the Deathless. Plus lacquer boxes and Faberge eggs and two ballets (Swan Lake and in book three, Giselle, and the running conceit of the forest. And my ongoing homage to all things Buffy… I guess that’s a lot. And when I initially conceived of this series, it had no Russian fairy tale element to ground the magic. So yeah, I’d say that was all a challenge.
What is your most embarrassing/funny/scary Halloween experience or costume?
My parents were nuts about Halloween. My sister and I never had to worry about buying a costume on time – my Mom had them picked out almost a year in advance. Mostly out of necessity, because they were usually hand made. Not in the “sew-you-a-ragdoll” kind of way. My stepdad loves gadgets and is one of the most creative people I know. I don’t think I appreciated it at the time, but when I look back now, I realize my E.T. costume, complete with home-made glowing finger was actually pretty cool.
Most embarrassing? Oy. That was just last year when my 6’5” husband insisted we go to a Halloween party -- with him as the Jolly Green Giant, and me his brussel sprout.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer and what did you first write about?
Grade 6. My teacher’s name was Mrs. Kratky, but we called her Mrs. Crabby, because she was. Good marks were tough to come by in her class, and I still shudder whenever someone uses a red pen – it was like she was drawing blood every time she marked up one of my assignments. Mid way through the year, we were asked to write a short story. As she handed them back, I watched my classmates’ faces pale, and listened as she commented about things students had done wrong. By the time she finally gave me my story, I’d almost hyperventilated. On the back of my story, she’d written in red pen: Please see me after class. I’ve invited your parents. Scariest. Words. Ever. But when my parents came in, Mrs. Kratky didn’t tell them how horrible my writing was or tsk the inappropriateness of my story – she said I had a talent, and they should encourage it. I still believe if that teacher hadn’t called in my parents, I’d still be fumbling for “what I want to be when I grow up.”
If you could spend the afternoon with a favorite fictional character, who would it be and what would you do?
I have to pick one? Yikes! I’m going to go with Alice, from Alice in Wonderland. And of course, I’d simply love to follow her down the rabbit hole. What an adventure!
What was your favorite book as a child that you have re-read as an adult? Did it hold the same magic for you as an adult as it did for when you were a child?
I actually have a handful of those favorites, but the three key are: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland, and the Princess Bride, which may not be considered a children’s book. Ironically, I also love the movie adaptations of those amazing novels. (I also have great admiration for Johnny Depp who coincidentally is in two of the above mentioned movie adaptations.) I’m never afraid to re-read a book – and I do so frequently. Sometimes it’s to get re-lost in the world the author has created, and sometimes it’s to absorb some of the writer’s talent.