When did you decide to start writing?
I spent most of my career as a filmmaker and TV producer, but writing was always a big part of my job. Even in my free time, I found myself participating in poetry slams, or composing humorous essays to share with my friends. But I considered myself a “filmmaker who wrote,” as opposed to a writer.
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Then, in the summer of 2007, I was selected to be a contestant on the Mark Burnett/Steven Spielberg-produced On the Lot, which, if you never caught it, was like American Idol for filmmakers, and aired on Fox for only one season. The goal of the show was to find “America’s next great director,” and I’d been selected from a pool of 12,000 applicants.
It was there, in Los Angeles, while competing head-to-head with seventeen other talented filmmakers on live television, that I suddenly realized it was the writing part of filmmaking I’d always enjoyed most. So, I refocused my career on my writing, with the goal of landing a book deal and selling screenplays. Which, I’m happy to report, has been successful so far.
Tell us a little bit about your latest work.
Reunited is a contemporary YA novel which tells the story of Alice, Summer, and Tiernan—three ex-best friends who drive 2,000 miles cross-country to see the one-night-only reunion show of the band (Level3) they loved as little girls. Of course, on the long drive cross-country, the girls hit more than a few bumps in the road.
|What are some of the qualities in your latest work that set it/you apart from what's currently our there on the market?
I think I have a unique voice as a writer (and hopefully as a human being, too). Although paranormal and dystopian are the genres that are “hot” right now, I think there’s always a place for good contemporary stories with rich, interesting characters, humor, and heart.
What attracts you to the Young Adult genre specifically?
I’m not sure what attracts me to the YA genre, but I tend to gravitate toward teen-centric stuff in my screenwriting, too. It helps that I still have lots of friends I’ve known since childhood, and when we get together, we inevitably reminisce about high school. Maybe even a little more than we should. ;)
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Who would you count among your strongest influences for your latest work, and why?
Until I got my deal to write Reunited, I hadn’t read a lot of YA, aside from the classics like The Outsiders, A Catcher in the Rye, or anything (everything!) by Judy Blume, so I’ve been playing a lot of catch-up. But one of the first things I read and adored was the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series by Anne Brashares. Since the Sisterhood series and Reunited are both interweaving narratives about friendship, I’d have to go with that.
Who or what do you hope not to be compared to?
If people compared me to Sarah Dessen, Anne Brashares, or Jay Asher, I would be thrilled! There are lots of people I hope no one ever compares me to: Snookie, Hitler, the Abominable Snowman.
Do you have pursuits outside of young adult fiction?
Yes! I’m also a screenwriter, a wife, a mom, a lover of yoga, hiking, camping, biking, and general silliness. Right now I’m writing a movie for The Disney Channel. It’s an adaptation of a Korean film, but the title will surely change, so I’ll keep you posted on that one.