author, Waking Under Water
Give us a bit of your background (where are you from, your family, traveling adventures)
I live in Tennessee, right between Memphis and Nashville. I grew up in Toronto, Canada and moved to the States as a pre-teen.
Most writers are readers. What are some of the books you have on your nightstand and/or on your "must read" list?
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger; Night by Elie Wiesel; everything by Judy Blume; The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson; Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird; and all of Sarah Dessen's YA novels.
Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?
So, this might sound cliché, but I’d love to go to Paris to write my next YA/romance novel. The city seems romantic—so full of life and possibilities. Hemingway and Fitzgerald did it…who wouldn't love to write in Paris in the spring?
What is your favorite genre to write?
I write contemporary Young Adult fiction—of the mysterious, romantic kind.
What got you started on your writing journey?
I started writing short stories in high school and even had a poetry journal in the second grade, but it wasn't until I began working on my MFA back in 2009 that I became serious about writing YA fiction. My first novel, Girl in the Middle, really came to life during that program.
What other things do you have planned with your writing for the rest of the year?
I have finished writing my third YA novel called The Broken One, which will come out sometime in late 2016 or early 2017. It’s about finding hope and love in the aftermath of a personal tragedy. And, I am currently drafting my fourth YA romance, which I hope to finish by December.
How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
I see a little of myself in all of my characters, but then again I was a pretty angsty teen. Most YA fiction deals with the protagonist searching or longing for something (like my character Skye Walker does in Girl in the Middle). I moved to a different country during my adolescent years, so all I wanted to do was fit in—finding the perfect guy in the meantime would have been pretty great too. You can find those emotions (the fear, hope, and anxiety) in my YA novels.
How many books have you written, and how many of those have been published?
I have written three books: Girl in the Middle (2013); Waking Under Water (2015); and The Broken One (forthcoming 2017).
What are the elements of a great romance for you?
There has to be tension and longing. I always start a book with these questions:
What is keeping these two characters apart? Why can’t they be together? And then, I work backwards to tell their story—I tell their struggle to be together.
Please share about your book:
Waking Under Water is about sixteen-year-old Mia Hughes who ends up at a boarding school in the South after making one bad decision after another. Trying to make sense of her new world is only half the battle for Mia as she fights to survive the wicked ways of the rich, spoiled kids at Galt Academy. But Mia is a fighter, and when she befriends junior Lucas Dunlap, the cute coffee shop guy, and his friend Natalie, things start to look up for her—until the betrayal.
After falling into a deep depression, Mia resorts to the one thing she does best: running away. There’s only one problem—Lucas has a hold on her. And just when Mia thinks life can’t get any more complicated, it does with some life-changing news. Can Mia keep her head above water long enough to survive the pressures of her new school? And will Lucas be there when she finally comes up for air, once and for all?
If you could sum your main character into five words, what would they be?
Lost. Entangled. Hopeful. Fighter. Tenacious.
Use no more than two sentences. Why should we read your book?
It’s a story about believing in and fighting for happy endings. Plus, who doesn’t love a sweet story about falling in love for the very first time—with all the entanglements along the way.