Is there a character you absolutely adored writing?
Mr. Simms is totally the cool SLP I wish I had been and it was a blast getting to know him! When I started writing I’d hear people say their characters “told them” who they were, and I was super skeptical. (You’re the writer – aren’t you the one in charge?) But I can honestly say this guy is an example of that happening to me! (And my only example so far. Wish it would happen more often!) When introducing him on the page, I closed my eyes and saw him fully formed – Metallica t-shirt, hair, voice, mannerisms. It was one of my favorite writing moments ever.
Did you have an inspiring teacher as a kid?
My fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Wuestnick was very encouraging of my writing. That was the year I had two books “published” by some kind parent volunteers who typed out my text and bound the pages between wallpaper remnants. We were then told we were published authors; it felt very real to me. Going back even further in my archives, my second-grade teacher Mrs. Martin reported I was “A great little author already.” She took time to tell us stories and encourage us to do the same. I love thinking about how long ago those seeds were planted. Teachers are amazing!
What author do you always read?
Ann Patchett and Fredrik Backman are instant reads for me. I’ve also always loved Barbara Kingsolver, especially her earlier work. In terms of kidlit authors, two from right here in CT that I’m an uber-fan of are Leslie Connor and Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo. I really look up to them as examples of how I might grow a lasting writing career in contemporary middle grade.