1. Tell us a little about your high school experience overall.
I went to a big, suburban high school, much like Caitlin's school in Hold Still. I was very shy in school and never spoke in my classes. I was good at English and bad at math, and my best friend and I were constantly together. We wrote each other long notes when we were in our classes, full of code names and embellished with little drawings and song lyrics. We had so much fun together, and this made everything else okay.
2. What was the best book you've ever read that was assigned reading?
There are so many, but I'm going to have to go with Catcher in the Rye. I know that it's a very typical answer, but I can so clearly remember reading that book in ninth grade and worrying for Holden in a way that I had never worried for a character in a book before.
3. Why did you decide to be a teacher?
Both of my parents are teachers, so it runs in the family. But I had no idea that I would become a high school teacher when I was a teenager. I knew I wanted to be a writer, and I thought that I would also be a professor. I tutored and taught in many places when I was in college and grad school: a private college, a city college, an Oakland elementary school, a juvenile hall. . . . Then I decided that I wanted to teach high school. And as soon as I started, it felt right.
4. Is there a particular teacher you had in school that inspired you?
I had so many amazing teachers. I was really lucky. The teacher I'll mention here is George Hegarty. I took his class in my senior year of high school. He made me talk in front of people, which I was terrified of doing, and he was incredibly supportive of my creative writing. I remember that he wrote, "The gift exists in you," on the back of a short story I wrote for his class. To receive feedback like that from a teacher I admired so much was thrilling.
5. What's your favorite thing about the fall season?
My birthday is the first day of fall, so I feel a special connection to the season. For me fall is a time of change and new beginnings. The school year starts; I meet new people; everything seems full of promise.
6. What are you reading right now?
I am reading The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. It's our school's summer reading book this year.
7. What YA fall/winter release are you most looking forward to?
I am really looking forward to reading How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford. Gayle Forman recommended it to me, and I trust Gayle's judgment. The cover is excellent, too.
8. Where is your favorite place to read/write?
Anywhere with good coffee and lots of other people who are also reading or writing.
9. Pick 3 songs you think readers should listen to while reading your novel, Hold Still.
Close to Me by The Cure, because Caitlin falls in love with it in the book.
I Feel It All by Feist, because it's my favorite upbeat song about hope and uncertainty.
Call it Off by Tegan and Sara, because it's just so pretty and sad.
10. The book you've been dying to read is out in paperback and hardback.Which one do you buy?