When and why did you start writing?
I started writing in high school, just little stories here and there. I’d always been a huge reader but oddly, I never thought much about writing as a career. It was something I did in my spare time. It wasn’t until college that I started writing seriously, with screenplays. I majored in film because I love love love entertainment and the collaborative creative process, but realized quickly that neither acting nor directing were for me. Several years after college I sat down determined to apply those storytelling skills to writing novels, and several years after that I finally wrote one that I didn’t think was horrible. It eventually turned into Whispers in Autumn, which is my first published novel.
What other Authors influenced your writing style, and what Authors are your favorite to read?
I think that Suzanne Collins definitely influenced my writing style later in the game, because I admire her unflinching honesty in the face of things that are hard to talk about, or that lots of people want to look away from. Earlier on, I really loved Madeline L’Engle and of course JK Rowling. I read pretty much everything these days, though if I’m just reading for my own pleasure I most often pick up contemporary stories (adult or young adult) and I have a soft spot for the ones that aren’t neat and tidy, but a little bittersweet. A recent favorite is Me Before You, and Wuthering Heights is my favorite classic.
Where do you see yourself as a writer in 10 years? Where do you want to be?
First and foremost, I’d like to still be making a living off my books. Second, I want to be a better writer and a better storyteller than I am today. A lot of people ask how I knew Whispers in Autumn was the best I could do before I self-published it and my response is always, I hope it’s not the best I can do! In any endeavor, but especially creative ones, we should always be improving. You can read earlier works from fantastic authors that make you realize how much they’ve learned, and it doesn’t mean the earlier books are no good, it just means they’re good at their jobs. To quote Tommy Boy, one of the greatest movies ever (heh), “if you’re not growing, you’re dying. There ain’t no third direction.”
Do you do any research for your novels?
I do quite a bit of research for my novels, some more than others, of course. I’ve traveled to research (my favorite!) but I also adore history (and have a graduate degree in it), so including bits and pieces where I can really makes me happy. I’m starting a new series with Bloomsbury in 2015 called The Historians, which is partially set in Ancient Egypt, so that was right up my alley. Historical research, geographical research, research into character quirks (if they’re medical or the result of trauma, etc) are all part of the game and that’s a rabbit hole that’s super easy for me to fall down. In The Last Year series, there was quite a bit of scientific research, as well.
Tell us about how the idea for the amazing covers came together for The Last Year Series.
I actually can’t take any credit for those! The seasons were my idea, of course, as well as reflecting them on each separate cover, but the idea to take one image and spread it over 4 books was all my cover designers idea. She actually had to talk me into it because it was so different from anything I’d ever seen, and for that I owe her a great debt. I doubt anything else could have been such a beautiful advertisement for my books in the same way.
I read in another interview that you got the idea from a tweet about a dream your friend’s daughter had, can you tell us more about that, and how you got from that one tweet, to four whole books. How did it transform in your mind?
Gosh, it’s like a little seed that burrowed in deep. I wrote down the tweet because something about it had caught my attention. I’d just finished reading The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, so that kind of world was definitely in the back of my mind even though I knew (of course) that I wanted to bring something new to the conversation. As with the majority of my books, the character showed up first – Althea had plenty to tell me, and by the time we were finished getting to know each other I had the rough outline for all 4 books. They did change over the next three years and countless revisions. For the better, in my opinion. 🙂
You mentioned to me in a DM, that you had trouble editing the scene where Althea is taken away by The others, and has to pretend that their mind control is working. It has some suggestions of maybe having been a little darker? Can you tell me more about that process?
I don’t know if I had trouble with it as much as I always hate re-reading those kinds of scenes. Action-type scenes are my least favorite to write; I dread them. It’s the detail, maybe, or the visceral reactions from the characters that’s hard to read and read and read over and over again. If I recall, the original scenes were actually less intense, and they became more so as the rest of the book took shape. The scene where the Others have the Terminal year kids drink the pink liquid came very late in the process, and that had a ripple effect on the darkness of the whole book from that point on.
Do you think there’s any chance at all that we could ever see this (The Last Year Series, or any of your other current tiles, or upcoming work) on the big screen? Would you sell the rights? Have you had any inquiry into them?
I would love to see my stories on the big screen! As of now, there haven’t been any serious inquiries into the rights, but I’m hoping there might be some day. As someone who once dreamed about being a part of the film or television world, it would be an amazing thing to have happen.
Do you believe that Aliens are really out there?
Yes. Mostly because it’s pretty myopic to think that, with all of the universes and planets that are so far away we don’t even know about them, we would be the only intelligent life forms to evolve. As to whether or not we’ll ever meet them, I’m less sure. But I am positive we’re not alone.
Tell us about The Cavy Files
It’s my new young adult science fiction series, one I like to describe as X-Men meets Alias. It centers around 10 genetically altered teenagers who are taken from their secure facility and thrust into the real world, unsure who to trust. Norah (code name Gypsy) is the narrator, and takes us through the struggle of finding a place to belong, trying to decide who to trust, and the journey to find out where they come from and what their creators expect from them in the future. I really love having the sort of contemporary YA angle mashed up with the science fiction, since the books are set in more or less modern-day Charleston, SC, and Norah and the others spend half their time struggling with normal teenage worries and the other half trying to decide whether they can save the world.
What do you want your readers to know about you, and your books, or anything else in the universe!
Hmm, random things. My OTP (one true pairing) is Chuck Bass and Blair Waldorf. I’m Team Pacey, Team Noel, Team Spike, Team Stark, Team Peeta, and Team Edward (look the first three up, youngsters). I coined the phrase “WB Generation,” I’m allergic to peanuts, have a thing for Zac Efron, and love art that make me cry.
As far as my books, the second installment in The Cavy Files series is out January 20th, and The Historians will be available later this year – I also write adult fiction as Lyla Payne, so check that out if you’re ready for some more heat and/or copious cursing. Heh.
Can you tell us anything more about your new book coming out… The Historians?
The Earth has been used up and humans have taken to space, colonizing a new galaxy (much like the Firefly universe). The new order has established a set of Academies, one of which is known as The Historians. Their duty is to utilize time travel to go back in time and document important events that led to the demise of Earth so that they might not be repeated.
The other important aspect of the novel is that a side effect of time travel has been the ability to predict a person’s one true match – the catch being that they might have lived long before your time, or might be born long after you die. When Kaia, a Historian-in-training and the book’s main character learns that her one true love lived and died in ancient Egypt, she can’t stop herself from going back to see him, just once.
A whole landslide of complications arise from her breaking the rules, but she quickly learns that she’s not the only one…and that the others intent on changing the past might have much more sinister motivations for doing so.