Q: What colors make you the happiest?
A: Oh, okay, so happiest I would say, I really like super intense, vivid colors. And I like them all together at once. Which is great except for when you decorate a room, it looks like a skittles factory. That is genuinely what my college room actually used to look like. Yeah, just really bright, intense saturated colors. Those are my favorite.
Q: What is your guilty pleasure?
A: Let’s see. I would say I’m a huge sucker for I mean, apart from just like chocolates and your normal food related stuff, I prefer like old school anime, like Sailor Moon has my entire heart. And I really enjoy like a lot of like sort of goofy not too serious but also has like some really good messages, which really keeps it from being a guilty pleasure. this is tricky because I realized the more that I think about it, the stuff that I would consider potentially a guilty pleasure are stuff that I like making too and it’s because I feel like there’s an intrinsic value in that. And so I guess everything is a guilty pleasure
Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
A: I would say, take the time to enjoy the victories that you get and take time to actually accept and appreciate those. And I didn’t realize at the time I was like, of course I’ll appreciate that I’m so happy that this thing was happening. But then when I look back at that, I realized that a part of that is that you don’t have time to sort of stop and appreciate that or you don’t let yourself feel that victory. And you just say, Oh, no, it’s not real or it doesn’t count for some reason, because you’re so you want to be prepared to get going again, and you’ll get a Yes, but I’m waiting for the next No. And so the best advice I got was, make sure to actually take time to let yourself, you know, be really sort of process your victories. So you understand that you have that under your belt, and you did that and you accomplished that.
Q: What’s the worst advice you’ve ever gotten?
A: I’ll put my parents on blast. They were very supportive of me in a lot of ways but I think they were also very concerned that I had more of a creative bent and the creative industries don’t necessarily come with a lot of stability that other industries come with. You can’t say, Oh, if I go to my job every day I’ll get promoted again, and then I’ll get to work on this thing. But for creative jobs it’s always a question of how long you’re working on this one project before you need to move to the next one. And you never know that kind of answer. So a lot of the advice I got when I was a kid was like if you want to do a creative thing. You can’t do that full time. And for some people, that is true, you can’t afford to leave your day job right away. But, I think the bad advice that I got was that it will never be a sustainable career. Be prepared to be a starving author, starving artist. And if you don’t want to be that, then don’t do it. And I think that idea is terrible. And it sort of builds this idea, or the expectation, that if you are a creative professional, you can’t be paid reasonably
Q: What’s the most difficult part about writing romance in books?
A: Man, um, I would say it depends on what I’m writing, but I have to really nail down what the characters like about each other, and how do I write that convincingly? And I think also, one of the things that’s tricky when you’re writing YA is, there are kids who have a whole range of romantic experiences from people who just aren’t interested in a relationship with anyone, and people who are like, sexually active. And there’s a whole range of experiences and how do you write something that is appropriate for the reader and not exploitative of that, and especially as an adult writing for teens, you don’t want to be writing basically fetish stuff about teens. So being mindful of writing a scene that is meaningful, and also doesn’t talk down to the readers, and also is mindful of the range of experiences within your readership. And the challenge is sort of like threading the needle. What’s OK? What is not too explicit, but also doesn’t back away. Like they had held hands, fade to black, and suddenly she’s pregnant. Yeah, that’s, that’s a disservice.
Q: What book do you believe has the best magic system?
A: I think I’ll go back to the classics for this. I really enjoyed Garth Nix’s Abhorsen Trilogy. The magic system in that was really cool. It was mysterious enough that you’re like, I don’t know how this works, but at the same time, there was enough information for you to navigate that world and be like, well, I don’t know why that’s happening but I know it’s because it’s this kind of magic. The way that the way that it fed into the world building the way that it fed into the limitation of the main characters abilities, and the way it was ingrained in the lore, all of that was really well executed.
Q: Has your love of video games impacted your writing?
A: Oh, definitely. One thing I tried to think about, and that feeds into writing is a mechanic in a lot of video games, is this if your character steps into water, they’ll just die. And it’s just like don’t go into water again. And I think it’s important to set limitations within a story, like if you do this your character will die. The more limits that you remove, the more anything becomes possible, and that’s when you start getting authors just making up the rules as they feel like it. So when I’m playing video games, a lot of what I pay attention to is how how they sort of seed in world building, how they make you make specific choices and the limitations they set on those, and how I feel about those too. Because it’s like if I was a protagonist navigating these scenarios, and I just was presented with this choice; how would I feel and where do I take that?
Q: What made you write YA instead of adult?
A: I think I’ve always just been more interested in books about teen protagonists, because there’s a lot of stuff that’s really relatable. I think when you get into adult literature, there’s stuff like Oh, why would this protagonists do this that’s completely nonsensical and you know, they should know better. And with YA, you can just be like, they’re teenagers, why would they know better? And the idea that drama goes away after high school is completely fabricated, but later on in life, you get better at navigating those same kind of dramas and conflicts. But, I really like the time period for a character when they’re in the stage where they have these limitations of they’re not quite an adult, but they are expected to act more like an adult, which is to me absolutely infuriating. It’s also a time when you are sort of figuring out and choosing who you want to be. Like, prior to being a teenager, you wear the clothes that your parents pick out, you will play with the toys that they buy you you do these things. And suddenly as a teenager you decide how to establish your own identity over time, with the limited freedom that you’re getting. I’ve always found that really interesting because that’s the spot where you get to make the first real choices of your life and it’s not just what you’re choosing. but why you’re choosing it. And it’s such a difficult part of life to be in, but it’s so interesting.
Q: What event in your life do you think shaped you the most as a person?
A: So, going back to when I was a teen and I was choosing who I wanted to be, there was a time in middle school where I was like, I’m the shy, awkward girl and I’m sometimes pretty loud, and I know that I’m always the person who’s like, Oh, I know the answer. I was a little Hermione Granger. There’s things about this that I like, but also, this isn’t the limit of who I want to be. At some point in middle school, I was like, I’m going to be more outgoing. I’m going to like, talk to people, I’m going to be less awkward. And I’ve just decided that’s what I’m going to be. And it worked more or less. I’m definitely still very much like Hermione Granger, but I feel more comfortable approaching people and more comfortable talking to people. It was weird, because it was just like, one day I was just like, this isn’t how I want to feel for the rest of my life. And I think I know how to go about changing that.
Q: What’s your best advice for staying true to yourself in a society that often pushes for conformity?
A: I think there’s on the one hand, figure out what you love, know why you love it, and stick to that. Figure out what you’re enthusiastic about and what makes you light up and claim that even if it’s something weird like nerdy stuff or anime. There are other kids who like anime, and you can be friends with them and they’ll make you happy. Finding that kind of community that appreciates you for who you are. And that can be really hard especially in like more rural areas, but at some point you’ll find your people and your happiness that way. On the on the flip side, I think that the dark side of that and this is where you’re like, I really like Nazis, and those make me happy, then I think you have to look at what about that makes me happy? Because that’s when you got to be like a maybe take a step back and evaluate why you feel that way. If you’re like, I really like trolling people on the internet, do you? Or do you have some stuff to work through that makes you want to hurt other people? And that I think is going to be close to finding yourself too. I think we want to make ourselves feel safe and part of finding who you are is finding what makes you feel safe, but not at the expense of other people. Make sure your happiness doesn’t come at the expense of others.
Q: Describe the moment when you first finished Merciful Crow.
A: I was sitting on a $20 couch in my apartment and it was a very good feeling. I had known what the last words would be more or less, but getting to that point is just always this surreal moment of like, I’ve done it. And you know work isn’t done. You’ve heard the phrase you cant edit a blank page, well now you have 300 full pages to edit, and revise and rewrite and cry about. But at the same time, you’ve gone from 300 blank pages to 300 full ones. It feels almost like graduating, Its not like yay I’ve accomplished this thing, but It feels like you have ended a period of your life. And it was great. I mean, it was a mess, but it was a very big moment. And sometimes those are the hardest to describe. But it was it was great. It was also very surreal to be like, Hello, I’m on this terrible couch and I need to go to bed, but also I finished writing my book.
Q: How much do you think innate talent dictates someone’s path in life?
A: I have always had a talent for drawing. What a talent means to me is that, it’s not you just start drawing, and you can immediately replicate, you know, the Mona Lisa, It means that you enjoy doing what you do enough that you enjoy practicing it. And then since you enjoy practice, you do it more, and that builds on itself and then people like, oh, you’re really talented. Talent is a combination of a lot of practice, enjoying practice, and also being able to grasp how to improve. But as much as I love drawing, I am not a graphic novelist and I haven’t actually done anything professionally with my art. And I love writing and I always found myself going back to that as something I wanted to do. But I think talent as a concept can be like, it can be used to explain a lot of practice that people do and it can also be used as sort of undercut people who are like, Oh, I can’t do it, I’m not talented, but there is no amount of talent that can make up for actual hard work and persistence. If you are the kind of, you know prodigy who can replicate Mona Lisa at 6 you get used to immediate success and you don’t develop the kind of personal discipline to keep on working and then you never get farther.
Q: Do you believe in free will?
A: Yes, I do. Because I think the idea that, that we’re all on some fated path, means that there is an entity that is dictating our actions. And if I believe that entity is good, there’s a lot of answers I will need immediately because there’s so many bad things in the world. And if that entity is bad, that’s a horrifying concept. The lack of free will means that there is something that would have to dictate our actions and if there is it really likes watching me walk into doors. I also thinks that’s such an immense prospect like I think we choose how to navigate the world within the limits of our own lives, and there are things that influence us but at the end of the day, the choice is for each of us to make.
Q: What magical power would you want?
A: I would love the ability to mess with time. Like I would love that. And I would also be able to, like write my books a lot faster. Give me all the cosmic power, please. But like if I had like a time turner, the ability to stop time and rewind it, there would be unbridled chaos, but it would all be great in the end. If I had to choose between be able to stop time and being able to rewind time and like redo something I would probably want to redo things, even though that’s the worst choice because I would just get stuck in the loop trying to be like no, no, but i want this to happen. The power that would be more useful is the ability to stop time, which Id use to totally mess with people. I’d be so many ghost stories.
Q: I’ve asked this question to Bill Nye so no pressure, but would mermaids lay eggs or give live birth?
A: I would say the presence of scales would mean that they will be laying eggs. However, depending on if they have memories, then that would suggest that they are mammals. If it was like a whale or a dolphin tale they’d give live birth, but if they have scales that they have like a fish bottom, and that’s where all the magic happens. So I would have to say that they lay eggs.
Q: Bill Nye said they’d give live birth.
A: I’ll have to fight Bill Nye; that’s the only way. I mean, he’ll win, Bill Nye will absolutely destroy me, but that’s a good fight to lose.