The author, age 6
The high school marching band years
Book lover • Star Wars nerd • writer
I've wanted to be a writer since I was seven years old. I loved books and reading so much that I thought that writing books must be even better than reading them (I was also pretty sure that authors spent a lot of time in their pajamas). So that seemed like a good deal.
After attending Boston College, where I majored in English and Communications, I went to graduate school at Emerson College to get my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. In college, I wrote lots of terrible short stories about boring adults and their boring problems, but when I went to graduate school I discovered that my stories were much better when my characters were kids. Their problems and situations were way more interesting to me.
It took me seven years of hard work to get my first book published, and I still work really hard on every story that I write. But my seven year old self would be happy to know that she was right: being a writer is the best job ever. And although I don't get to work in my pajamas all the time....sometimes I do!
You may find answers here
I get asked a lot of questions about writing and publishing. Here are a couple of the most common, with my answers.
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR IDEAS?
Ideas come from lots of places--things I read about, places I've been, things I've experienced. Sometimes, they even come out of thin air! For example, one day, when I was brushing my teeth, I thought, "What kind of parent names their daughter Hamlet?" After thinking about it for a while, the family story in The Total Tragedy of A Girl Named Hamlet came to be!
HOW DO YOU WRITE A BOOK?
For me, writing a book takes a lot of thinking. Once I have an idea for a story, I get a new notebook (my notebooks are really specific--they remind me, somehow, of my main character). That's where I do all of my brainstorming. I think about what the character is like, what his/her family is like, what trouble they can find them in. I usually spend two to four months brainstorming in my notebook.
Then I start writing. It takes me about 6 months to draft a novel, and I do many, many revisions after that. The whole time, I'm using the material in that notebook to help me craft my story.
WILL YOU LOOK AT MY WORK/HELP ME GET PUBLISHED?
I wish I could, but then I'd have no time to write my own books! The best thing you can do is find a local (or online) writers' group to share your work with. That's how you become a better writer.
Also, groups like SCBWI can help new writers learn about the industry.
SOME OF MY FAVORITE WRITING RESOURCES
On Writing, Stephen King
Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert
Story Genius, Lisa Cron
Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott
The Writers' Panel podcast
Narrative Breakdown podcast
Magic Lessons podcast