What inspired you to write a novel for young adults?
I’ve been performing Shakespeare for young adult audiences for years and they are absolutely the best, most responsive, most engaged (and usually also the toughest!) audiences out there. That was one of the things that I thought of when I started to write this series. I also just really wanted to write the story of a girl who happened to be seventeen years old and so it naturally fell into that category. But I love writing YA because it is all about stories that are full of firsts, and crazy undiluted passions, and feelings that are to fresh to be jaded.
What's the best part about being a writer?
The readers! I have gotten the most amazing reader responses, both from the bloggers and from fan mail and every time I get something like that it makes me so glad that I’m doing this. It’s also a lot of fun to be able to spend so much time hanging out with my imaginary friends and call it work…
Are you currently working on any other books?
I’m currently in the revision stage for book 3 in the WONDROUS STRANGE trilogy –it’s the final book in the series and I’m very excited about it!
I also just signed a new deal with Penguin Canada for an entirely different project called ONCE EVERY NEVER. It’s a story about a modern teen girl who spirals back in time to Rome's bloody conquest of Britain – where she befriends the daughter of a fiery queen, falls for a fierce warrior prince, and discovers that she may be the only hope of averting a devastating blood-curse. I’m very excited about that, too!
Personally, what's your favorite YA book?
There are quite a few – but a current favorite is definitely Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games. I haven’t even had time to read Catching Fire yet but as soon as my own book revisions are done, I’ll be diving into that one! When I was younger Mary Stewart’s Crystal Cave series was a huge fave; I’m not even sure that it was called YA back then but I think it would be now, because it deals with coming of age stories – first Merlin, then Arthur, then Mordred.
Where did you get the idea for Wondrous Strange?
I’ve been fascinated by Faerie lore in general since I was a kid. The stories that intrigued me the most were never the ones that portrayed the Fae as tiny, sweet, sparkly things. Rather, I was drawn to the idea that these were the creatures that existed beyond the circle of firelight, or just on the other side of the threshold, or just over that far hill; things only ever glimpsed out of the corner of your eye – if you were lucky! I love the dangerous aspects of the Fair Folk. I always appreciated that you got that sense with Shakespeare’s characters. That, given just a little nudge, things could go badly south with those creatures pretty quickly.
As to how that fascination managed to find a home in the middle of an adventure set in NYC, well, I had some time ago written a short story about an actress in a production of DREAM in which some of the characters in the play were actually real Faeries. It was a fun little character piece and it stuck with me as something to expand upon. But, if it was going to become a longer tale, it needed a truly extraordinary setting outside of just the theatre. When I went down to New York for the first time to meet my agent, I – naturally – paid a visit to Central Park. I fell instantly, irrevocably in love with the place. And with its history. The Park was the most magical place I had ever been and it virtually demanded that I turn it into a setting for a story. For some reason, it was just perfect for this story. It fits so well with the play and the pastoral setting, but there is also a whole bunch of really interesting history behind the building of the Park that just dovetailed wonderfully with what I had in mind.
Was the cover what you imagined it looking like?
No! But that’s only because I had absolutely NO idea what the geniuses in the HarperCollins art department would come up with. It’s funny – I’m usually a fairly visually-oriented person but I think I kind of actively avoided coming up with any kind of cover images in my head as I was writing these book. I guess I didn’t want to be disappointed. Well – no worries there! Because my designer went out and found a fantastic photographer and they cast the perfect model and created those wonderful sets and… obviously… I couldn’t be happier. I mean – just look at them! Both of them! I made all sorts of embarrassing gleeful noises when I first opened up those emails, I can tell you… and I’m so thrilled that they managed to get the very same lovely girl and the same photographer back for the cover of book 3 (which I haven’t seen yet – but I can’t wait!)
Were any of the characters inspired after people you know in real life?
Situations, yes – like the fact that Kelley and I both share a disastrous theatre school background. But characters – not so much. Mostly the characters I write appear in my head as their own personas. I suppose there are character traits from people I know in really life, but no actual character based whole-cloth on real people.
Can you give any clues about what happens in Darklight?
I can tell you that readers will get to actually experience the Otherworld first-hand… and I can also tell you that Kelley should really stop wandering around in Central Park after nightfall. I don’t care if she is a Faerie princess. It’s just not safe! And I can tell you that Sonny is in for a few surprises in this book. Some of them… he might not deal with particularly well… ;-)
I have a brand new, hardcover copy of Darklight to giveaway to one lucky reader!
US & Canada Only.