Sample these Author Profiles and Stories Behind the Stories, then follow the links to the full interviews.
"She gave me editorial advice, the most difficult of which was 'cut about a hundred pages.' Gulp. So, I cut a third of the book, slashed a few subplots, changed the ending, and resubmitted the book."
—on POWERS (YA)
“On one level, CHOICES is about Kathleen, a seventeen-year-old whose life fractures after the death of her brother. At first, Kathleen thinks she is suffering post traumatic stress, or perhaps multiple personalities. Her world becomes unpredictable, changing from one day to the next. Today, her hair is shoulder length and brown. Tomorrow, it's two inches high, spiked, and blue.”
--on CHOICES (YA)
"My goal was to have each scene from the past inform the present, and each scene in the present hint of the past. Sometimes I felt as I was constructing an elaborate puzzle. I don't think I'll use such a rigid structure again!'
— on STAINED (YA)
“I wanted to write a horror novel that felt extremely real. So the main character Hannah isn't unlike the characters of my previous books, which would fall into the realistic fiction genre. She's a girl who moves around a lot and has trouble fitting in wherever she goes. The book deals with a lot of the normal problems of being in high school, but Hannah has the unfortunate luck to happen upon a school attended primarily by zombies who are very clever and devious when it comes to hiding themselves.”
— on ZOMBIE BLONDES (YA)
"This story was probably the most straightforward thing I've ever written. The challenge came in making the book more than just 'The demon experiences A, B, C, D, etc.' so that the reader would continue to want to read it—and, frankly, so that I'd continue to want to write it."
"The biggest outside influence was probably Conrad Richter's Awakening Land Trilogy, which has nothing do with vampires or horror, and which I talk about in an author's note at the back of the book. I ended up cutting a lot of my backstory that was more concretely based on AL, but even so the mood of time slipping away and being lost forever is still there."
—on NIGHT ROAD (YA)
"What I needed—and wanted—was something fun and light, both to shake off the seriousness of A FAST AND BRUTAL WING, and to shake some of that same gloom out of myself."
— on DUMB LOVE (YA)
“I really connected to the story when I visited Mount Vernon. Standing on the piazza, looking out over the Potomac, I imagined George standing next to me. It gave me goosebumps. It still does.”
—on FARMER GEORGE PLANTS A NATION (PB)
“For a long time, I struggled with whether or not I should tell this story. Finally, I decided that if I was going to do it, I was going to be as accurate as possible. I conducted phone interviews with women's clinics, consulted state laws concerning abortion rights, and read as much as I could on both pro and anti-abortion positions.”
—on MY LIFE AS A RHOMBUS (YA)
"I've had a couple gay ex-boyfriends, and I'd found an old love note from one of them. I remembered how I'd absolutely believed every word in that note and how I believed that I'd marry him and live in this cabin on a mountainside and be really poor and have five kids who all wore cotton and wool."
—on TIPS ON HAVING A GAY (EX) BOYFRIEND (YA)
"It was shocking and purely joyful. I've never experienced a feeling like it. The joy was just so incredibly intense. One analogy I can think of is that it was like in Chicago when we would go to Lake Michigan on windy days and the waves would hit us so hard we would fall over and even get bruised."
—on winning the Newbery Medal
for KIRA-KIRA (YA)
"My website has lots of information on it for writers of children's literature -- everything from a Getting Started page for new writers, to a Published Writers page to help people who have just sold a book and want to know 'what's next?'"
— on being an author and Web guru
"Charley wanted to drive stagecoaches in a day when women were 'just' housewives and mothers. In order to do what she wanted to do, she had to 'become' a man. So she did."
—on ROUGH, TOUGH CHARLEY (PB)
"One summer, I was lying on the daybed in the living room under the ancient air conditioner, which was barely cooling the room, and I thought to myself, how did people stand it in the heat a hundred years ago, especially the women, who had to wear corsets and all those layers of clothing? And with that thought, Calpurnia and her whole family sprang to life to answer the question for me."
—on THE EVOLUTION OF CALPURNIA TATE (MG)
"My inspiration came wrapped in a blanket and drinking a bottle of soymilk -- all the way from Pusan, Korea. I'm referring to my son Connor, who I nicknamed Buddha Baby because of his plump cheeks and glowing smile."
—on KIMCHI & CALAMARI (MG)
“Susan was the first Native American woman doctor, and I wondered what it was like for her to leave her prairie home in Nebraska to study medicine in an eastern city. I called libraries and historical societies and finally tracked down a batch of the letters she had written home from medical school. Eureka!”
“The big challenge when it came to publishing The Dust of 100 Dogs was my location.
“Even as late as 2004, many agencies refused to accept email, which made things very expensive for someone like me, who had to spend up to $60 per full manuscript sent.
“On the more positive side, that same location made the Irish history research easier through generous neighbors who offered their libraries of books I would have never found elsewhere.”
—on THE DUST OF 100 DOGS (YA)