What inspired you to write novels for young adults?
Michael--from TAKEN BY STORM. His voice emerged in a free write and wouldn't be quiet. I wasworking on my MFA at the time. I had to put aside the middle grade time slip adventure I was working on and follow Michael's story. I have three sons and a daughter, so I was surrounded by teen voices. Good thing. I needed them. Plus, I was volunteering at church teaching teens. I knew a lot of girl's like Leesie in STORM. I guess I wrote STORM to tell their stories. AndI keep finding more touching stories to inspire me to explore the courageous path young adults travel on their way to adulthood. I love the coming of age journey and will continue to write about it for the rest of my life.
Are you currently working on any other books?
This fall I wrote the sequel to TAKEN BY STORM--UNBROKEN CONNECTION. Razorbill has it under consideration now. I'm also revising that middle grade time slip novel. I'm replacing the annoying kid in it with a Bronte-esque Victorian heroine. It's going to be Jane Eyre meets the Terminator--but my assassin ain't no robot. My working title is, MY TIME ASSASSIN. I'm also polishing up an romantic historical novel inspired by my Scottish roots. Today I'm calling it MY ONLY LOVE. It's a heartbreaker, too. My next project is the third novel in Michael and Leesie's saga, CAYMAN SUMMER.
Personally, what's your favorite young adult book?
Markus Zusak's THE BOOK THIEF--the guy is a genius. And incredibly cute. I actually got to meet him at a conference in Germany. He blushed a delightful Aussie pink when he was introduced and then stood up and BLEW US ALL AWAY. Genius. Changed the way I write.
Is there a specific author that inspires you?
Wow, there are so many, but I learned most from Katherine Paterson. I wrote my MFA critical thesis about her. My faith is a big part of everything I write. I studied her to find out how to do that without making it bleck. She says your faith, or inner truth, should be the "bones and sinews" of your work. I love that. I've actually got a post up on my liv2writ blog on my website that goes into more detail about what I learned from Katherine.
What inspired you to write Sing Me to Sleep?
My daughter sang with the Junior Amabile Singers when we lived in London, Ontario, Canada. It was so tough on her when we moved to Switzerland and she had to leave that family. Matt, the young man SING is dedicated to, was one of her best friends. He helped keep her laughing when all she wanted to do was cry. Matt, who sang with the boys' choir, and her friends from the JAS chatted with her online to keep her going. When Razorbill asked me to wait to write UNBROKEN CONNECTION, I had the opportunity to develop a new novel. I came up with several ideas, but a story set in the competitive choral world featuring the Amabile family of choirs inspired by a tragedy that happened in that family was the best. My editor convinced her publisher to go with it. But none of us realizedhow powerful this book would be until I'd sent them the finished manuscript, and we couldn't stop crying over it.
Was the cover what you imagined it looking like?
Actually, the cover is kind of what I wanted for TAKEN BY STORM. So when I saw SING ME TO SLEEP's cover I was thrilled. It is so beautiful. They made some changes to it after the catalog and ARCs went to press to make it stand out more. Too many pale blue covers with hands on them. That threw me because I loved the cover, but I like the smoky cover with the pale pink touches even more. I mean, I wrote the novel on pale pink paper, had my new office painted pale pink, and even own a pale pink suit. Pink ballet shoes are my favorite footwear. It's kind of me. So I'm happy it's my cover, too.
What was the hardest part of writing Sing Me to Sleep?
Writing the lyrics was not easy, but I think the hardest thing had to be writing, typing, revising, and editing the ending. Every time I had to read back through those chapters, I cried so much my keyboard got soaked. Emotionally heart wrenching. But I don't know if I'll every write anything as important as those chapters again. I hope you feel every tear I put into it.
Did you have to do any research before you started writing?
I did quite a bit of preliminary research, wrote the first draft, and researched tons more. I still made mistakes. My great copy editors and friends who read the manuscript for me helped get them fixed. Matt's mother was a huge help. We got most of them fixed before the final edition went to press. There are a couple of things I'd like to fix, but NO WAY I'm going to tell you what they are!
AngelaisawesomeandofferedaSIGNEDhardcovercopyofSing Me to Sleep to one lucky winner!
*Please note- you won't receive the book until after the release date, March 4th!*
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If you want any book suggestions feel free to email me and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.
Also, any YA authors who are coming to New Jersey or New York City please let me know, I'd love to attend!