What was your first encounter with the writing world? After completing my first manuscript, I knew I needed to grow in my understanding of the business side of writing. I booked a flight to a national writer’s conference and dove deep into the writing world. One valuable experience I took away from that was submitting my manuscript for a public critique on a big screen in front of strangers. I survived the experience (although my fingernails didn’t) and grew in my confidence as a writer. I listened to presentations by authors and editors about the publishing business and learned a ton about how it all works. Weeks later, someone I’d met from the conference introduced me to Anaiah Press. I pitched my manuscript and the rest is history.
When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer? My heart and my head waged a bit of a war when it came to choosing my career path. My heart has always been happiest deep inside of stories. When I started college, it was clearly in charge because I majored in creative writing. My head finally got a say in the matter at the end of my senior year when I considered my career options. I couldn’t see how to pay the bills as an author or a poet, so I went the corporate PR and advertising route. A couple of decades flew by in a flurry of raising a family, but when the demands of little children yielded to the independence of teenagers, I felt the writer in me reawaken. A novel tumbled out of me and was published, then another. It’s been a little surreal, but absolutely awesome, to finally call myself a “writer.”
What is your most interesting writing quirk? I have only one spot where I write anything worth keeping. At home in my sunroom, which is lined wall-to-wall in warm, glossy, knotted pine. Even the ceiling is covered in planks of golden pine. I sit at my roll-top desk, strike a match to light a candle (which is another quirk, I guess) and my fingers start flying over the keyboard. Out of necessity, I’ve written in other places, but I just can’t settle into the story like I can in my favorite writing space.
What’s your first line in your book and why did you decide to start with that? “Violet peeked through the window at the after-school orchestra practice that had started without her.” I began here because it raises three questions about Violet. 1. Why was she late for practice? 2. Why peek through the window rather than walk in? 3. What does she play? The answers to these questions allowed me to draw the reader straight into the main conflict within Violet’s world — She feels like a square peg trying to fit into a world of round holes. She’s desperate to be accepted for who she is and to belong. Don’t all middle grade kids feel this way most of the time? I know I did. If I’m being honest, I often still do. Which brings me to the heart of the book — Honesty. Let’s just say it’s not exactly Violet’s strong suit and because it’s not, she ends up in a heap of trouble.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences? In a way, yes. Although it wasn’t a conscious decision on my part, Violet embodies a lot of qualities I wish I would have had at her age and didn’t. Oh, who am I kidding? I still don’t. Violet is a tough, outspoken rebel with a huge heart. I’m a people pleaser and a push-over. I don’t have the courage to do half of the gutsy things Violet does. It was fun to let my inner nonconformist out of its cage and go for a run across the pages.
Do you hear from your readers? What do they say? One of my favorite parts about being an author is when I’m invited to speak at elementary schools. That’s where I meet (or sometimes create) little fans. In my presentations, I take them through some group creative writing activities and we always howl with laughter at the funny stories that come out of them. Usually, there are a few kids who take a particular interest in me and I’ll receive an email later that says something like, “Remember me? I’m the girl in the front row who told you the joke? I’m reading your book and I’m at the part where….” Connecting with my readers so personally is a ton of fun.
Thirteen-year-old Violet Windsor is obsessed with the rush and thrill of skateboarding through a dangerous, gang-ridden part of New York City. Certain that her high-society parents wouldn’t approve of the rough-and-tumble sport or the sketchy neighborhood, she and her best friend, Sloane, hide her secret adventures in a thick veil of lies.
When Violet’s neurodiverse brother, Oliver, begins drawing pictures that reveal a mysterious knowledge of her secrets, Violet is rattled to the core. Intrigued by clues in Oliver’s drawings, she follows them down a reckless path toward redemption and truth.