Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
The most notable thing about my growing up that influenced my writing is that throughout most of my childhood, my family owned an independent bookstore. I grew up with unfettered access to read anything I wanted to read. My parents both worked very hard outside the home and my younger brother and I were somewhat benignly neglected. The shelves that lined the rooms of our house were mine for the browsing. I read widely and without any discernible pattern, flitting from book to book as the fancy struck me. This gave me both a very broad introduction to the world via literature and an ear for all kinds of writing styles and periods of written English.
Who are your favorite authors?
It is difficult to choose favorites, but I suppose I have a few "desert island" writers I would grab from the shelf if my house were burning down. They include (for example) Toni Morrison, William Shakespeare, Mark Twain, William Faulkner, Jeanette Winterson and Louise Erdrich. Those are the writers with the depth and complexity of story-telling that would allow me to read them over and over again without feeling like I had ever exhausted their stories. They are also telling stories that I am interested in reading and thinking about, with characters and settings I am compelled to understand and spend time with and in.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Inspiration is beside the point. Like most people I am compelled to get out of bed every day! In my case, the most compelling reason to leave bed is two young daughters. They are also inspiring in a variety of exalted ways, of course, but first and foremost they have to be fed!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I cook quite a lot, and when I am not cooking, I am cleaning up after my cooking. I love to ride horses, and do it as often as possible. I am a mediocre but enthusiastic gardener and of course I read extensively in both current events, nonfiction and fiction of all descriptions. I am a post-academic, so I am often reading academic writing of one sort or another just out of interest.
What is your writing process?
My process evolves with each project but there are a few things that are fairly constant. One is that I draft with only a very rough idea of where the story is going. My "outline" might be ten bullet points, for example, and they often change, mid-project. Once I have completed a draft I send it to readers. I have one writing partner in particular who is a scathing critic and never fails to give me the whole, ugly truth about everything that is wrong with my draft. Once he has done this very helpful thing, I revise. I tend to revise three times before I feel ready to send my work to agents or publishers. I revise meticulously enough that editors often comment on the "cleanness" of my drafts.
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Lizzie's mama has to make a decision that will change their lives forever. Will Lizzie have the courage to make an equally important decision for herself?
"Jump" is a short prequel to the young adult novel, "Jack."