Which character in From Dust, A Flame did you really want to write more for?
I love the main trio—Hannah, who puts so much pressure on herself to be perfect, and Ari, who’s frustrated that the community she grew up in might love her, but is making it harder to become who she wants to be, and Gabe, who struggles to make the people around him happy while staying true to a self he doesn’t totally understand. But if I somehow got to do a sequel, it would be a Gabe book. He’s the best big brother, the true definition of a cinnamon roll, and you know, he’s got a golem.
Who inspired your reading as a kid?
I actually read a lot of Jewish books as a kid—my synagogue library was one the first places I went to pick my own books—though Jewish kidlit looked a lot different in the '90s. Lots of Holocaust books, and not a ton of diversity. I was also obsessed with the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. I think he was my first favorite author. But the first YA I read (before the genre was so huge) was the Tomorrow series by John Marsden, following a group of teens who have to survive in the Australian bush after their country is invaded, and who navigate complicated moral questions, grief, and trauma as they decide to fight back. As a teenager, I felt so respected by that series and the way Marsden wrote his teen heroes. Now, as an author, I don’t think it’s possible or advisable to write for teenagers if you don’t respect them.
What author do you always love to read?
I have a lot of auto-buy authors, whose books I’ll pick up before I even read the synopsis. At the top of the list for YA is Anna-Marie McLemore (When the Moon Was Ours, Wild Beauty, The Mirror Season), and for adult, Alyssa Cole (the Reluctant Royals series, When No One Is Watching)