I finished my first novel when I was twelve. It was long and rambling and about seven dragons who were on a quest to find their kidnapped mother. It's probably the stupidest thing I've ever written (though at the time it was Serious Business), but I had SO much fun working on it. I was so young that nobody had yet told me writing a novel was "too hard" or that I might not finish it. I wrote it because I loved reading books and I'd reached the point where I couldn't stand not making my own.
And I think loving working on that book so much and finishing it in blissful ignorance of any nay saying on the subject gave me a strong foundation for the books I would write later. Because nobody told me I couldn't do it, I never questioned my ability to write a book. Plenty of self-doubts would come later--as they do--but I've never doubted that this is what I love doing above anything else.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
There have been a lot of factors. But the one that finally pushed me to go indie was my publisher's decision not to buy a sequel to my debut, The Rise of Renegade X. There had been a time when it was a possibility, but the numbers ultimately didn't support it, despite readers loving the book and begging me for a sequel. All anybody's ever wanted to know about that book was when the next one is coming out, and for several years I accepted that the answer was never. Even though I wanted to write one and readers wanted to read one.
Then I met another author whose publisher had dropped his six-book series at book five, leaving his readers without an end to the story. So he'd written it anyway and self-published it. By that point I was starting to hear more and more about self-publishing, and how things were changing, and I thought, "Why can't I do that?"
Since then, I've embraced indie publishing and am much happier. I'm still submitting to traditional publishers through my agent, but being able to produce my own books at the same time gives me more freedom with what stories I write and more control over my career. And my fans get to keep reading about the characters they love, and I get to keep writing them, so it's a win-win situation.
Who are your favorite authors?
Sara Shepard, Rick Riordan, Louise Rennison, Rick Yancey, Ann Brashares, J. K. Rowling, and probably lots of others I can't think of at the moment. But these are all authors whose books I continue to not just devour, but to reread, which is rare for me these days.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Knitting and crocheting, while watching Netflix, of course.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard - I love this series so hard! I love how much I feel like I know all four main characters and that I can relate to all of them, even though they're very different. And with all the mystery and suspense on top of that, I can't turn the pages fast enough.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan - I love these characters and how the author combines our world with the world of Greek myth and weaves everything together.
The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey - what I love about this book (and its sequels) is the combination of some serious horror and the dynamic between Will Henry and Dr. Warthrop. Their relationship is sometimes painful, but often hilarious, and the horror is always hardcore.
Gone by Michael Grant - this is another one of my favorite series and I love how each book builds the overall story, each one getting more epic than the last. And, of course, I love the characters and how much they grow and change throughout the series.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares - I've read these books several times and I think about them a lot. This is another one with four main characters who are all very different, yet I feel like I relate to them all and know them personally.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Describe your desk
My desk is, um... Well, there's a sort of Frankenstein laptop on it with pieces taken out and some pieces taped in place (the keyboard is out and I'm typing on a wireless). There's an open bag of walnuts leaning against it, next to my Megaman Legends action figure (I know, I know, you're pretty jealous about that one) and my Nightmare Before Christmas block calendar (it's made of blocks and I change it every day - it lasts forever, but you sort of have to already know what day it is). There's also a random stick that came in a bag of stuffing, some scissors, my crochet hook, some maps from the car, a knitting project I'm in the middle of, my circular knitting needles case, a stuffed doll of Panic from Disney's Hercules that shakes when you press his stomach, a postage scale with a giant stuffed Marshmallow Peep sitting on it, and a pile of printed out knitting patterns.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The best part about writing for me is when I get so into a book, so completely obsessed, that I don't want to do anything else except be in that world with those characters, putting down words. That's when things really come alive for me, when I can't stop working on a project and the whole story just becomes bigger and better because of it and the characters deeper and more complex.
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans have been super supportive and all around amazing, and if it wasn't for them, there wouldn't be a sequel to The Rise of Renegade X. I always wanted to continue the series, but when I thought that door was closed for good and out of my control, it was the fans who kept saying, "But, seriously, when is the sequel coming out? Can't you just write it anyway? I NEED IT!" that kept the idea alive.
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