What you Write:
Agent: Moe Ferrara
Why BookEnds? As a querying writer, I loved how respectful the agents at BookEnds were of writers. They seemed to honor what a scary thing it can be for us to give our work to strangers and they gave generous, constructive advice.
Tell us a bit about your writing process. Where do you write, and how often?
I write every day! I’m a slow writer and I hate overly-messy first drafts, so there are days when the most I can get out of a writing session is a sentence or two. I just try to keep in mind that something is better than nothing. I keep my books handy on GoogleDocs and I’m still nursing my two-year-old, so lots of my writing is done with one thumb (and yes, that means the muscles in my forearm hurt).
Do you have any writing rituals? (e.g. burning a candle if you’re having trouble getting started at the computer or writing longhand first if you’re feeling uninspired.)
I’ve had a journaling practice since I was six years old, and I still wake up every morning and write one page. These days, it’s a short list of goals that I have, three things I’m grateful for, and a random line or two, usually about how delicious my coffee is that day.
What do you love about writing Middle Grade?
I love writing for the Middle Grade audience because they’re so frequently underestimated. Middle Grade readers are sophisticated, insightful, and truly brave to be navigating a particularly tough season of life. For A DANCE OF THE DEAD, I relied heavily on my journal entries from middle school, and learned a lot about myself in the process. I really respect kids of this age for taking the first stabs at independence and summoning the courage to grow.
Why did you choose the genre you’ve chosen?
I’ve always loved ghost stories. There’s something so fascinating and frustrating about anything you’re 99.9% sure is totally real, but have no way of proving it.
What is the hardest part about writing Middle Grade?
Whenever I would read ghost stories or watch TV shows or movies about ghosts, I’d always crave to hear from the ghost themselves. When I set out to write DANCE, I knew for sure that I’d want to weave together a historical voice with a modern one; one living the mystery, and the other solving it. It was a challenge to find both voices.
If money were no object, what would be your dream writing location?
I’ve been writing about Ireland for a while now, so now it’s is hard to shake from my imagination. There’s a little seaside village near Dublin called Howth (which is actually one of the settings for DANCE) with big, proud lighthouses and screeching seagulls and hills and sky and water so alive with vibrant colors that they break your heart. I’d love to go sit with my back against a rock and my face to the sea and just write like a maniac.
Do you belong to any writing organizations?
Lots! My main group is the #llamasquad on twitter, which started as a group chat for querying writers and transformed into a slack channel, a forthcoming website, and a real, honest-to-goodness friendships. I’m also in a group with three other SFF writers, and a local group that meets here in Pittsburgh. I love reading the work of other writers and supporting the dreams of fellow writers!