1. Who: Who are your instabuy, go-to YA authors? And which new talent have you discovered recently?
Ooh, so many! I love anything by Kasie West, Ally Carter, Kara McDowell, Stephanie Garber, Jennifer Lynn Barnes, and Debbie Rigaud. Some others I discovered within the past year are Meredith Tate, Tirzah Price, Abigail Johnson, Kristy Boyce, Sarah Dass, and Margie Fuston. Several of those were debut authors in 2021, but a couple are authors who’ve had books out for a while and I just started reading them, so now I get to catch up on their backlist!
2. What: What was the most joyful moment in preparing to bring My Second Impression of You into the world?
This book has brought me a lot of joy, so that’s a tough question! I think I’ll go with seeing the rough sketches of the cover. As soon as I opened them in my email, it was like seeing my character Maggie come to life. The cover artist, Jacqueline Li, had captured her so well, even in a sketch. It just kept getting better as the cover was finalized. But I’ve also had other moments of joy—like doing copyedits. I’m that strange writer who loves geeking out over grammatical comments and how the copyeditor fact checked my locations and the character’s surgical procedure (she breaks her foot). I don’t know why that made me so happy, but it did!
3. Where: Where is the state of YA right now, from where you sit? Where do you hope to see it go next?
As a writer who grew up reading adult books because YA wasn’t really a category yet, I love seeing how many options there are for teen readers today. It’s pretty much a guarantee that whatever a teen wants to read, there’s someone out there writing it for them, and that is so amazing. The trick, then, is helping them find those books, and it’s not an easy task, particularly right now. It involves people within the publishing industry, the supply chain (bookstores and librarians), not to mention parents, teachers, and everyone else involved in access to books these days. So as for where I hope to see it go next: just let them read all the books!
4. When: Looking ahead to next year (or beyond), what exciting things are next on the horizon for you?
I always have other projects in the works. In particular, there’s one story I started 10 years ago that just won’t let me go. I don’t know if it will become a book readers can buy, but I’m working on getting it there! And I have a few other ideas that are simmering into more solid outlines. Hopefully I’ll be able to share more about those in the near future.
5. Why: Why YA? What draws you to writing for this age group?
It’s kind of a Goldilocks story. I tried adult first, because from age 11 on, I was reading adult books (mainly romance novels with some suspense thrown in). But when I started writing seriously, despite being an adult, I didn’t really sound like one. Next, I had an idea for a middle grade book, and I actually wrote a few MG stories, but I never quite got the voice right. Then an agent suggested I try young adult, and I just fell right into it. I started devouring as many young adult books as I could. I love how fast-paced they are, how YA books can mesh together multiple genres because that’s sort of what it’s like when you’re thirteen or fifteen or eighteen—you’re figuring out all the different things you like, and sometimes they all crash together. I love how YA readers are discovering who they are and making mistakes and reconciling what they learn from their families with who they want to be in the future or how they want to change the world. There are just so many possibilities and perspectives to explore. It’s real and magical all at once.