What inspired you to write Dating Down?
I started this story eons ago and then stuffed it in a drawer. Literally. Before all my files were kept on my computer, it sat in a folder in a box in a cabinet in my house. Then in grad school at Vermont College, I was in a panic for something to submit and pulled it out. And the rest is history. Well, many years and many rounds of revising later, that is.
Why’d you write it in verse?
I actually didn’t realize I was writing in verse at first. I just heard a voice and followed it. (I’m well aware there are professionals to see about this.) I very often hear a character with a particular cadence or way of expressing herself. I try to keep an open mind and go with what they’re saying in the particular way they’re saying it.
Does X have a name?
He does. Many, actually. He is every girl’s dud of a boyfriend that brings you down while you’re together. C’mon, girls. Aim higher!
Sam eats a lot of Twizzlers in the book. Why is that?
Possibly because the writer who created Sam’s character might happen to also enjoy eating a Twizzler or two. The candy’s tagline is Makes Mouths Happy. Who can argue with that?
How come the story takes place in Chicago?
Because I live in Chicago. It’s a great city. You should come visit it sometime.
Where does your next story take place?
My next story takes place in Los Angeles and is set in the past.
Where do your ideas come from?
The thing I love about ideas is they lurk around every corner. I never know when something’s going to slap me in the brain and say, I’m a story! Hurry up and write me! So, to answer your question, I’d say, Everywhere.
Where do you come from?
Well, I spent the first nine months of my life happily living in my mother’s belly. Then when I had to leave there, I spent a good amount of time in a crib in Wichita, Kansas. Then when I was five, my parents moved. Being five, I didn’t have much say in the matter, so I went with them. I grew up (which is what I think you’re really getting at) in St. John, Kansas. It’s a tiny little town filled with all sorts of story ideas waiting to happen.
Did you always want to be a writer?
Yes, I did. I asked for a dictionary and thesaurus for Christmas. I was ten. And Santa came through for me. Good one, that guy.
What were you like in high school?
Kind of like I am now. Filled with wonder. And skepticism. Always had my nose in a book. I spent a lot of time scheming with friends. We plotted everything from how to sneak out and go cruising, to how to get out of Geometry homework without failing. (Side note: I am not condoning either of these things!) Also, I was always in search of the perfect pair of shoes. Ones that would be everything for every occasion. I’ve abandoned this goal. Now, I buy many shoes for any occasion imaginable.
Speaking of school, do you do school visits?
Sure! Contact me and let’s chat.
What are you working on now?
I’ve got two stories in the hopper. One takes place in Los Angeles, like I mentioned before. The other takes place in Chicago. Both are set in the past.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I’m usually writing. Or daydreaming about things that could be a story. I really love thinking about life as a teen. When I was a teen, I couldn’t wait to be an adult. Now, I’m happy to remain a teen. But that doesn’t answer your question, does it? When I’m not writing I’m either traveling to places that require a passport and visa and loads of vaccinations, or I’m eating Twizzlers and reading a book. Sometimes, I do all of these things at the same time!