Thank you so much for doing this interview for Creating Serenity! I hope you’re all comfy and ready to go!
First about The Clique. How would you describe this book?
I would describe The Clique as an anti-romance. As much as most YA novels are about romantic relationships and the importance of being in one, The Clique is focused on friends and remembering to have a wonderful time just being kids.
How did this book start for you? Did you come up with an image, idea, dream?
Good question. The idea for this novel was—it started as another Gossip Girl/Pretty Little Liars story, where I was going to follow the characters through all the drama that happens to them. And then, around chapter eight in the original manuscript, Devon became this dynamic character that I couldn’t avoid. On the other side of the coin, Audrey and Kate and Maddie refused to be the victims that I wanted when I started. So it started out as another YA Drama, but I like to think it evolved beyond that.
Did you have any growing pains with this novel?
Haha, oh yes… I finished the first version of the manuscript in early August, and since then I’ve written a lot more, read quite a few novels on writing, and thought about all the mistakes I made in The Clique. Stretching the editing process out for so long meant that there were a couple times when I’d finish an edit and have to go right back to the first chapters and do it all over based on how I’d grown as I examined my own style.
This book actually deals a lot with what kids go through as teenagers. How did you get into the minds of teenagers to make this so real?
I suppose I just reverted back to that mindset. I asked myself how I’d act if I were raised the same way as each of these girls, and what I would do in the situations they end up in. It also helped that I based the characters pretty heavily on friends I knew in high school, since we fell out of contact and they’re still that same age in my mind.
“That’s kinda what dating is. You look through an endless stream of guys you don’t like, until you finally find one you do. And then you say ‘this one is mine,’ and you hold onto them forever.”
I noticed the teenagers in this going through some serious stuff, drinking and sexual issues. What would help the teens today to get through this when they don’t think they can talk to their parents?
Phew, heavy question. I think it would be really hard to deal with everything like that without parents, but everyone I’ve seen in situations where they couldn’t have those conversations with their parents seemed to do best when they chose friends who could fill that role. Friends who wanted to have fun without drinking, and didn’t consider sex to be some magical cure-all.
Did you have a message you tried to convey?
Not when I first started writing, but by the time I finished I think I did. I would say that the message of The Clique is that what matters in life is enjoying it, no matter what else is going on. Laughing even when there might be as much reason to cry.
Do you have a favorite or least favorite character?
Oh, I love Mr. Silveris. He’s heavily based on one of my own teachers in high school (who actually didn’t like me too much, haha) who was the first to introduce me to real philosophy. Mr. Silveris is the embodiment of the message of The Clique. As far as least favorite character, I’d have to say Gabe. It’s hard to explain why without giving away too much of the plot, but anyone who reads it will see.
Does this story have a playlist that goes along with it?
Hmm, interesting question! Not an official one, but if it did the playlist would contain tons and tons of Paramore (because I love that band and there are quite a few songs that I think could relate to different plot twists), as well as a little Fun. and Maroon Five.
Oh my goodness! I love Paramore. I sort of have an obsession with them. They are just too cool and cute! Now! About you! I hope you’re ready to spill some fun stuff! First about your writing style. Can you describe your best writing day?
I’d wake up to a pancake breakfast, chill on the couch for a few minutes, and then head down to my basement and slip on a Snuggie. I break my writing into hour-long chunks, so I’d try to get a couple hours in before lunch. Then I’d grab a Dr. Pepper, probably some buffalo wings (we’ll say this is also an ‘eat whatever I want’ day ;), and head back downstairs for another hour of writing. If I was happy with that, I’d lean back and watch some Youtube videos while my mind processed everything. Maybe log into my email and check if I’ve gotten anything interesting. I’d squeeze in a final hour before dinner, meet up with my family for whatever they’re having that night, and then either binge a show on Netflix or watch whatever’s on TV.
That’s one awesome day! Mine also involves drinking soda and eating yummy things that I normally do not allow myself! What are you reading right now?
Right now I’m doing research for a few different pet projects. The most interesting novel I’m reading is The Complete Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, are there any authors (living or dead) that you would name as influences?
Haha, yeah. And this is going to seem strange because my genre is so far from his, but Orson Scott Card. I used to read Ender’s Game over and over. I had this ratty copy my brother gave me, and by the time I finished reading it for the—I believe it was the ninth time—the cover fell off completely. It was water-stained and ripped, and I’ve never loved a book more.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
Think about what I want to write about next? Honestly, I love to hang out with friends or pick up random skills. That’s a fun habit I started when I took my gap semester between high school and college. I find something I want to learn and challenge myself to do it.
It sounds like you think about and/or write quite a bit. Have you always wanted to be an author?
Not always. Actually, I think it was my contrarian nature that led me to writing. From eighth grade all the way through high school, teachers weren’t the kindest when it came to my writing. The only year where I was top of the class was eleventh grade, when I started to think of writing as a logical progression from one idea to the next. Once I started getting praise from a teacher for my work, I suppose you could say I caught the bug.
What is your writing style? Do you create outlines for your writing or do you just sit and type away?
I can’t abide by outlines. When I write, I rarely have an idea of what’s going to happen next before I start the chapter. I’ll sit in front of a blank Word screen and think about what would logically happen next, what would be interesting, and when I find an idea I can’t ignore I start writing.
What is your next project? What have you been working on recently?
My next project is a novel called Still Life, about the aftermath of a boy coming out to his religious parents. Editing that and exchanging critiques with other authors has kept me pretty busy.
Do you write using a computer or the old fashioned pen to paper?
Computer all the way. I figure that I’d have to type the story in at some point, so why not do it on the first draft?
Do you listen to music while writing? If so, what’s on your playlist!? I know there has to be some Paramore on there!
I have a few different playlists I like to listen to when I write. One is “Fun. Radio” on Pandora, and another… Here, I’ll go down the list of the eleven songs on my playlist right now:
Coming Home Pt. II by Skylar Grey
Pressure by Paramore
Hot ‘n Cold by Katy Perry
Decode by Paramore
Love Runs Out by OneRepublic
Here We Go Again by Demi Lovato
Harder to Breathe by Maroon Five
San Francisco by The Mowgli’s
Problem by Ariana Grande
Strange Clouds by BOB
Bleeding Out by Imagine Dragons
What Creating-Serenity is all about; guilty pleasures! Tell us more about you and what your favorite things are!
Favorite things… Favorite things… Oh boy, there are so many to choose from. I’ll try to summarize in a single sentence. Late nights with good friends, the feeling of unconditional love, and the freedom of realizing everyone’s a little crazy. For something more concrete, my favorite movie is The Count of Monte Cristo, my favorite TV show (still running) is The Big Bang Theory, and I’d either rank Ender’s Game or Colleen Hoover’s Hopeless as my favorite book.
One of my favorite things are holidays around the fall time of year. Halloween is coming up! Do you celebrate?
Usually, but not this year. Too much work to do, which is a good thing in many ways.
Do you normally dress up? What’s your favorite Halloweeny thing to do?
I usually dress up, but I avoid “Slutty-“anything. If I dressed up this year I’d probably be the Doppler effect, from either the first or second season of The Big Bang Theory (just ‘cause I’d love to make that noise Sheldon does and watch people’s reactions).
AHHHH!!! I remember that episode! Sheldon is just awesome and that was just too cute! Look you can buy the T-shirt and wear it all year long!
What would be your most memorable date? Or one you want in the future!
Let’s see… I don’t suppose most of my dates are memorable. I’m not even sure my favorite one in recent memory counts as a date. It was about a year ago, and we were hanging out after work in his car for hours. I got off at ten, but we talked until twelve, fogging up the windows and joking around. Then, when we got bored of that, we headed over to his dorm and played Cards Against Humanity with his friends. I guess I loved it because it, and him, were so honest. None of the usual first date interviews, or trying to impress me with expensive dinners. Just having fun hanging out.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
As Pink said, I don’t feel guilty about any of my pleasures 😉
What is your favorite word?
Antidisestablishmentarianism. My dad taught it to me in third grade, and I’m pretty sure it’s still the longest word I know. Speaking of which, sesquipedalian is a close second.
What is your least favorite word?
Any curse word. I tend to think all words have their use, but curse words tend to be overused, especially by some people. Don’t get me wrong, I use them, but I try to keep them out of my day-to-day language.
Do you talk to your characters?
Haha, sometimes. I’ve done a couple of posts to promote The Clique where I interviewed my characters. Generally, I don’t like to, because it seems like such a one-sided conversation, or rather a conversation where I have to switch sides every few seconds. When I’m writing dialogue in a novel it’s easy to imagine the world through the eyes of a character, and become them for a chapter or two, but when I have to be both myself and someone else things get a bit complicated.
What sound do you love?
Sizzling or fizzing of any kind.
What sound do you hate?
What’s your favorite time of year?
Ooh, tough one. I think I’ll go with summer, because it’s easier to simply go outside and play, or do whatever else I want to do. In winter—and fall and spring, to a lesser extent—there can be snow or rain or cold temperatures to make going outside more of a chore.
Best vacation spot ever…
I’ve only been to California once, but if I had the chance to go back there I think that would be my ideal vacation spot. Because surfing seems insanely fun and I want to give it a try.
Surfing would be awesome! And talk about an amazing workout too!
Tell your readers three things they don’t know about you!
Um, I don’t think any of my readers know that I’m majoring in Information Technology at my school. It’s interesting, since there are so few girls in those classes… I’m not a bad chess-player, and when I was younger I actually won a few tournaments. I don’t play anymore, though. And I have a ~13 year-old black lab named Dakota, but no one knows his exact age because we adopted him from a shelter when my brother and I were little.
Thank you so much for taking the time to indulge my curiosity and for letting your hair down! 😉
Sure thing 🙂 Thanks for having me!