Frequently Asked Questions

About Me

+ Where do you live? Where did you live?

I live in Brooklyn, New York, with my husband, my daughter, my son, and our dog, Edith. I have lived here a long time, but my dad was in the Army, so as a kid, I lived in lots of different places: Washington D.C., California, Panama, and Rhode Island. I went to thirteen different schools before 9th grade.

+ What do you like to do?

When I’m not writing, I like to travel—either short distances by bike, or long distances by plane. I also have a vegetable garden. I can make blueberry muffins blindfolded and with one hand tied behind my back. And of course I love to read and read and read.

+ What food makes you the happiest?

Angel food cake and artichokes!

+ What do you wish you were better at?

I wish I could be a better swimmer. I wish I knew how to dive, surf, scuba dive, or do a head stand under water. I love water but I am not good at it.

+ What’s your favorite childhood memory?

In fifth grade I won the Presidential Fitness Award for doing the most pushups. FYI, I can still do a lot of pushups.

+ Winter or summer?

Winter.

+ Sweet or salty?

Sweet.

+ City or country?

City.

+ Rock, paper, or scissors?

Paper.

About Writing and Books

+ What is your day like?

My day starts with my husband making me breakfast. He is really good at breakfast. First he makes a pot of strong coffee, then it’s onto: pancakes, omelets, banana bread, tortillas, or toasted cream cheese bagels with salmon. I always feel lucky and grateful about such a delicious breakfast.

Then I write, pretty much all day. Exercise is important to me because I don’t like to sit for long stretches, and writing means sitting. At night, we all come together and talk about the day. Both of my kids are in elementary school, so they have lots to tell.

Once or twice a week, other writers will join me for a writing day. That’s always fun because we can share thoughts about our books, tell one another news, look at different book jackets and websites, and share ideas. Community support makes me feel happy and energized.

+ Do you like to work on one thing at a time, or different things at once?

I like to write one new thing at a time. I put the new-thing-work in the beginning of the day, when my brain feels fired up (on the coffee). Then I will use the afternoon to answer emails, look at revisions, edits, or maybe reading other writers’ books. A chunk of my day is for reading new books. I really like to know what everyone is writing and reading about.

+ What are your favorite books?

Too many to count! But I think I could list ten of my favorite books: John Dollar, Never Let Me Go, Interpreter of Maladies, Sula, The Handmaid’s Tale, On Beauty, The House of the Spirits, The House of Mirth, Bel Canto, Tender Is the Night, The Interestings. Oops. That was eleven.

+ That’s not interesting, because I am a kid. What are your favorite kid books?

A zillion! But my top ten in kid books are: Charlotte’s Web, Matilda, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Bridge to Terebithia, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, Anne of Green Gables, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, The Graveyard Book, American Born Chinese, and A Series of Unfortunate Events.

+ That’s sort of interesting, but I read YA. What are your favorite YA books?

So many! Monster, Looking for Alaska, Feed, All American Boys, A Separate Peace, Prep, The Sky Is Everywhere, The Hate U Give, Eleanor & Park, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.

+ How long does it take you to write a book?

I would break it down this way: the fun part (draft 1) takes between 6 and 8 months, the un-fun next part (revise) is also about 6-8 months. Then there is still more revising, but it gets fun again toward the end.

+ Can you help me with my book report?

If your question is not about asking me how my book ends because you don’t have time to read it, and the report is not due tomorrow, then I will help you.

Still need an answer? Send me an email via my Contact page.