I write both. I love to write middle grade because those years can be so unsure and ever-changing for kids and I think reading can be the one constant, secure and reliable thing in a tween’s life. I write young adult because there really are no limits. There is so much for a teen to learn and explore that story ideas are infinite. Very difficult situations can be addressed with characters of all shapes and sizes, backgrounds and abilities. Or you can simply experience a high school prom or learn how to volunteer. You don’t always have to save the world. Plus kids of any age are simply better readers. They read with their imagination geared up and interactive. They take the story you are telling and warp and shape the word images and dial the emotion way up and live inside the story. Adults often see what is on the page and very little more.
Pretend your protagonist is at school and opens his locker – what will we see inside?
Jeff’s locker is stuffed full with crinkled and bent graded papers and barely passed exams. The hoodie he shoved in there one warm afternoon in September is now buried under textbooks and thought gone forever. Recently a couple girls have slipped their phone numbers through the slats, but he’s been way too busy to notice.
What superpower would you love to have? Why?
I think your desired superpower changes as you go through life. When I was younger I’d probably have wanted to be able to fly. Heck, I might want that again when my body starts to stoop with age. Currently, as a mother of four, I wish I could be in two places at once and whenever possible I’d send my second self out to drop off a kid at the movies, pick up a kid from driver’s ed, and do the grocery shopping while the main me stayed home to continue writing.
Hunger Games or Twilight? Why?
Hunger Games hands down. I enjoyed Twilight (not the fourth book, but the others) but the characters don’t withstand the test of time. Bella drove me nuts because she was so weak. I never really liked her. The further I get away from reading the book the more Edward’s actions seem creepy. Whereas Katniss is just a kick butt heroine – if not a bit psychologically warped by the end of the series. Gael is strong and dependable and Peeta is devoted and truly nice.
Sum up your book for Twitter: 140 characters or less.
Everybody loves a bad boy and Jeff Mean is the King of Bad.
Which of your characters would you most like to meet IRL? Why?
This is harder to answer than I imagined. Seriously, I’d want to meet Jeff’s whole family. They have an interesting dynamic. He gets along really well with his sister, Sandra. His dad, Frank, is mister kick back and always fun to be around. His mom, Sarah, is strangely severe, but really honest. I’d love to hang out with them. Go over to their house for cards. Go on a picnic. I like them as people.
You’re stranded on a desert island—which character from your book do you want with you? Why?
Definitely Jeff. His super powers would make him really useful. Fire to start the cook fire. Levity so he can float me up to pick coconuts. Ice to cool drinks on a hot day. Really, there are so many others ways his powers would come in handy.
Create an ice cream flavor. What’s it called?
The ice cream would be a light peanut butter and honey flavor with chunks of cookie dough in it (sorry to those with peanut allergies). I would call it The Honey Dough List.
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He may never find out. Classmates vilify him when he develops good manners. Then he’s kidnapped by those closest to him and left to wonder who is good and who is bad. His rescue is the climactic episode that balances good and evil in the super world. The catalyst – the girl he’s crushing on. A girlfriend and balancing the Supers is good, right? Or is it…bad?
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