Questions About My Path to Publication:
How long have you been writing?
I started writing toward publication in May of 2010, when I was halfway through law school. By the time law school ended, I knew I couldn’t bear to practice law, and I knew being a young adult author was my dream job. I wouldn’t say that I left the law to be a writer, but I did decide to take two years to focus solely on writing and see where it took me. It’s always a little awkward to talk about how I made the transition from law to writing because I wouldn’t encourage anyone else to leave a career behind before they’re sure if writing will work out.
Who is your agent?
I’m represented by Melissa Sarver White of Folio Literary Management. She’s amazing!
How did you get your agent?
I’ve had two agents along the way and I signed with both of them via querying. My most important piece of advice to querying writers is to do your research on agents and don’t settle for someone who isn’t a good fit for you or who doesn’t share your vision.
I’d love for you to blurb my novel. Can I send it to you?
I’ve been lucky to experience an outpouring of generosity from the YA community when it came to blurbs. I’d love to give back to other authors in the same way other writers so generously gave to me, but I prefer those requests to go through my agent, Melissa Sarver White at Folio Literary Management.
What are you working on next?
A Map for Wrecked Girls will by published by Dial/Penguin on August 15, 2017. It’s about two sisters and the way they destroy themselves and their relationship—and how they put it all back together after they’re stranded on a deserted island. My third book will be published in 2018.
Questions About A Map for Wrecked Girls:
Questions About Wandering Wild:
What was the inspiration for Wandering Wild?
I started writing knowing I wanted to explore themes of “finding a place in this world” and “girl seeking autonomy,” which reminded me of stories I heard as a child. Growing up, I had a great aunt who was of German-Irish-English descent and would tell the most incredible tales of living a nomadic lifestyle as a child with her family in the ‘60s. Since my great aunt was of German-Irish-English descent, that’s how I envision my characters.
What research did you do prior to writing Wandering Wild?
Wandering Wild is purely a work of fiction, so I did little research. I read Kent Walker’s Son of a Grifter, the story of Sante and Kenny Grimes, a mother-and-son pair of con artists, who committed a series of crimes and murdered a wealthy widow in New York in 1988. I also learned a little about bare knuckle fighting from watching the documentary, KNUCKLE.
Why did you choose to call the nomadic community in Wandering Wild "the Wanderers?"
The name was taken from one of my favorite poems by William Stafford, “A Story That Could Be True.” I especially love the last stanza:
They miss the whisper that runs
any day in your mind,
“Who are you really, wanderer?”–
and the answer you have to give
no matter how dark and cold
the world around you is:
“Maybe I’m a king.”
I also wanted to avoid having my characters describe themselves as “gypsy.” That word is is a racial slur often used to describe Romani people. Based on my desire to be sensitive to the Roma culture and because my characters aren’t of that culture, my characters don’t use the word “gypsy” to describe themselves. However, the word is used by the people of the small Southern town the Wanderers visit. While I believed it was most realistic for a small town to ignorantly use this word to describe the Wanderers, it was my intention to only cast the use of the word “gypsy” in a negative light. I’ve sadly since seen the word used in relationship to my book.
Do you have any regrets about Wandering Wild?
Yes. I am deeply sorry for the cultural appropriation and for not making it clear the word "gypsy" is a slur. The cultural appropriation was the sloppiest of world building, and I worry it has been hurtful to marginalized groups. It has come to my attention that some readers thought Wandering Wild was intended to be a portrayal of Romani life, an assumption that's harmful to Romani people and one for which I accept full blame. While these mistakes were unintentional, that does nothing to lessen the damage. I am grateful for the YA community for having smart conversations that have educated me about what I've so carelessly done. While it is perhaps no consolation, I vow to do better, learn more, recognize my privilege, and work hard to never make the same mistakes again.
Will there be a sequel to Wandering Wild?
No, there are no plans for a sequel. I left Tal, Wen, and Spencer exactly where I wanted them.