Hi there. Following are my answers to frequently asked questions. If you have a question for me and it’s not covered below, please reach out to me on Twitter or Facebook. I’d love to hear from you. You can also email it here. I will try my best to respond!
Will UNDER THE NEVER SKY become a movie?
I wish I could say a resounding yes, but the answer is maybe. The film rights to the trilogy have been optioned by DAS Films, which basically means they are developing the story. Cross your fingers that things move forward!
How do I get a signed and/or personalized copy of one of your books?
If you’re in the United States, contact Rakestraw Books at (925) 837-7337 with your information (payment, personalization, address) and they will help you out.
What are your favorite books?
In no particular order: Graceling by Kristin Cashore. FEED by MT Anderson. I reread Jane Austen’s novels every year (Persuasion is my favorite.) I’m obsessed with The Count of Monte Cristo (revenge plots are the best!) I put Ender’s Game into the hands of everyone I can. The Hunger Games blew my mind. I adore a great work of historical fiction, or historical nonfiction. Boys in the Boat, Endurance, Unbroken, Fearless, The Gates of Fire, All the Light We Cannot See, to name a few. Recent YA reads I’ve loved include Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You The Sun, Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes, and Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Curse Trilogy. I haven’t even covered books I was obsessed with as a child (Judy Blume!)(Tolkien!) To try to put this under one umbrella: I love novels about characters I fall in love with, who feel deeply, want something terribly, and who live in compelling, vividly rendered worlds to which I’m utterly transported.
Who was harder/more fun to write, Aria or Perry?
Aria. I don’t really know why. I just channeled Perry right from the beginning. At one point the story was completely in his point of view, but I’m so glad I added Aria’s voice. I love that character fiercely. It just took me a little longer to find her.
How long did it take you to write UNDER THE NEVER SKY?
A year and a half to develop and draft, and then seven-ish months to revise. I’m getting faster at drafting and revising with every book, but I truly believe it’s a mixed blessing. I don’t think good books can be rushed!
Why did you write a book about the four horsemen? They scare me!
Hah. Well, me too. But the truth is, that’s why I wrote about them. I grew up with a ton of fear surrounding The Book of Revelation. And, for reasons that are beyond me, I tend to go toward my fears in my writing. I’m so glad I wrote Riders. I learned a lot about my faith and about myself.
To be more specific, Riders had several points of inspiration. One was a book I read several years ago called Fearless, which is the incredibly moving story of Adam Brown, a Navy SEAL who died in combat. This is going to sound like a cliche but here goes: that book changed me. I had to explore some of what I felt after reading Fearless in my own writing. And, to be a little bit spoilery, Riders is meant to be entertainment, but there are deep underpinnings for me involving service, sacrifice, spiritual faith and patriotic duty. Hooah.
What is your writing process like?
Different for every book. Sometimes I’m really plan-ey. I’ll spend time on research, an outline, and other prep materials. Other times I write organically, no outline or character sketches or anything. I just show up and go. Basically, I do what feels like the right thing–which is what will get me excited about sitting down and working. I think it’s important for writers to know their tools. But I don’t think you always need all of them.
When I’m working on a novel, I write every day. Sometimes weekends as well. Generally when I’m drafting, I’ll commit to one thousand words a day. Anything additional is extra. It might take me two hours to get that many words, or it might take me seven. I never know.
What is your advice for aspiring writers?
Write a lot, read a lot, repeat as necessary. Seriously. Also, find people you trust who can give you honest, constructive feedback. And never, ever give up.
How can I meet you? Talk to you? Be your friend? Email you?
We already are friends! Twitter is the best way to chat with me. And you can also head over to the NEWS page for a schedule of my upcoming appearances. If your inquiry is professional, I am represented by Tina Dubois, ICM Partners. If you’d like to email me, you can do so here.
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
No. I have always been an avid reader but leaned more toward the visual arts when I was younger. I kept a journal through high school and filled it with drawings and sketches. I also wrote short stories in there and copied favorite poems. Looking back, I see the writer in me struggling to come out, but for many years painting was my primary artistic passion and I even went to school to study it. I’ve only been writing seriously for about twelve years. UNDER THE NEVER SKY was my third completed manuscript, but I’d been writing for about seven years prior. I don’t think it’s ever to late (or too soon) to become a writer!
How do you handle writer’s block?
Well, I employ whichever strategy works. Sometimes it’s stepping away from the writing for a while to let my subconscious work on the problem. Walks, a day off, a great movie or book. Time with my family and friends. They’re all things to which I turn if I’m blocked. Just taking a breath and clearing your head can do wonders. Other times, I have to just push through the block through sheer determination. Sometimes writer’s block is just fear. Still other times, I’ll try to find ways around what’s stumping me. If it’s a plot problem, I’ll work on character sketches for a while. Or I’ll move to a scene that’s working and fiddle around with that, refining it, just to keep the story moving in a positive direction. It’s really about finding a way to let the creative engine in your head cool down. A calm mind is a more open mind.
I heard you co-wrote a New Adult trilogy. Why do you write books in such different genres?
I did co-write an NA trilogy with my dear friend under the pseudonym of Noelle August. They were a blast to write.
And why write in different genres? Simple: art is nothing if it can’t be free. I never want to be restricted in my freedom of expression. Do you?
Will you ever revisit the world of UNDER THE NEVER SKY?
Right after I finished the trilogy, I was really ready for a break. But now I miss the characters! I have no plans to continue with them, but never say never.
What are you working on next?
I’m finishing up a historical fiction for young adults. Look for it in summer 2020!