Anyway, here goes!
What is the working title of your next book?
Underneath is the official title, and it was the working title, too--lucky me to keep my title!
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I started it during a long-bygone NaNoWriMo, and I'm not entirely sure what made me start writing this one, except that I wanted to write something about psychic abilities and I also was interested in how those abilities would have practical ramifications for a real-life person in a contemporary setting. Also, there is a strong thread having to do with friendships, and the making and breaking thereof, and I feel that is always a relevant topic not only for YA readers but throughout life (sadly).
What genre does your book fall under?
I would call it sort-of-paranormal, I guess, and sort of realistic.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I think Chloe Moretz (of Kick-Ass and Hugo fame) would make an awesome Mikaela, even though she's maybe not, um, Latina. Is Kal Penn old enough to play a dad? Could he be Sunny's dad? That might be cool. Or Naveen Andrews. Naomi Scott, who was the teenaged daughter in Terra Nova, I always thought would make an amazing Asha for The Latte Rebellion, and I could see her as either Sunny OR Shiri, really. I don't know of very many half-South-Asian actresses, so that one's tough! As for Cody...hmm...maybe Logan Lerman, who played Percy Jackson? He'd need a major dye job. At first I though Robert Pattinson, but then I thought nah, too obvious.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
16-year-old Sunny develops the power to hear thoughts in the wake of a family tragedy, and it turns her life upside down.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I'm represented by the fabulous Jennifer Laughran of Andrea Brown Literary Agency, and the book will be published by Flux in June.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I started writing this during National Novel Writing Month in, oh, something like 2005 or 2006. I started late, I didn't get to 50,000 words, and I got partway in and had no idea how to end the story. I was immensely frustrated, so I put it away for a year or more before finishing the first draft. Then I got frustrated with it all over again, and put it away AGAIN before rewriting. So it's been kind of a difficult project. I'm so pleased and proud that, with plenty of advice from others, I've managed to get it to the publication point!
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Phoo. I don't know. Um...Wake by Lisa McMann, perhaps...Tighter by Adele Griffin...Hold Still by Nina LaCour (though it's not paranormal)...Replay by Robin Brande.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
In 1998, when I was 21 years old, my stepcousin Janet killed herself, and I was left with a lot of questions, of lingering doubts and guilt and other complicated emotions. Sadly, though, this is not an uncommon situation for young people to find themselves faced with. At a certain point, I felt that if I could work it into my writing and create something that was in some way not just cathartic for me, but could help readers feel less alone, I wanted to do that.
On a less somber note, I also was mulling over the idea of a character who was willing to believe in supernatural powers, and what that would mean for my narrator. I had a friend when I was in high school and college who believed in auras and past lives, and that was always intriguing to me. That trait ended up forming the basis of a lot of characters in the book, as I thought about who would believe in Sunny's powers or to what extent someone might be skeptical.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
A lot of people have asked me if my next book was also going to feature mixed-race characters, and I can tell those people YES, Sunny is also half South Asian, but it's not a part of the plot in the same way as it was in The Latte Rebellion.
I've email-tagged five writers, and while I can't guarantee they'll participate, you should definitely check out their websites!
- Fellow blogger Gail Gauthier of Original Content has said YES and will be telling you about her next big thing. She's the author of The Hero of Ticonderoga and the Hannah and Brandon books, among others.
- Robin LaFevers is a blog bud, writing pal, and fellow introvert who wrote the fab Theodosia books as well as the very exciting Grave Mercy and its upcoming sequel Dark Triumph, which I can't wait to read--check out her blog here.
- Beth Kephart is also a blogging and writing friend whose books are all amazingly lyrical and touching--her most recent is Small Damages, which I need to read already, and I look forward to finding out more about what's on the docket. Her blog posts are always thoughtful and thought-provoking.
- Colleen Mondor of the redoubtable Chasing Ray wrote The Map of My Dead Pilots, a truly fascinating memoir. I know that whatever else she's got coming next, it's going to be wonderful--if she can take a break between book reviews.
- Lastly, I wanted to tag Sarah Beth Durst because she is always so thoughtful about remembering me for review copies of her new titles, and because I absolutely loved her latest fantasy novel, Vessel and want to know what's coming next. Her blog is here.