Why did you become an author?
I became an author because I love telling stories. Ever since I was a little girl, I've always LOVED telling stories. I tell all kinds of stories -- stories about immigrant girls, loan sharks, wealth, privilege, motels, first love, relationships, family, trauma, poverty, and race. The thing that all my stories have in common is they are moving, authentic, and filled with diverse characters.
How much of what happened in Front Desk was real?
Front Desk was inspired by my childhood but is a work of fiction. I would say that it is about 60% real and 40% made up.
Where do you get the ideas for your books?
My ideas come from all over -- my life, what's going on in the world, people I meet, my travels. I find inspiration in so many different places -- in the fields of the Central Valley in California, eating a taco from a taco truck, on the BART coming back from SFO, at the beach, on a hike with my dog, on a ski slope, or sometimes just sitting at home in my pajamas. Wherever I go, I'm always asking a ton of questions. And I take a lot of notes on my phone!
I love to write too. Can I show you one of my stories?
Unfortunately, I am not able to read your manuscript due to legal reasons. But I highly recommend that you join a writing critique group with your friends and share your work with each other!
What was the hardest book for you to write?
Parachutes because it was a dual person POV, so essentially it was like writing two books and then combining them together!
Favorite TV shows?
These are the TV shows I love to watch over and over again:
Orange is the New Black
GOT (early seasons)
Here are some that I've enjoyed binging:
The Morning Show (particularly the last three episodes of Season 1)
Big Little Lies
There are too many to list! Movies I loved recently include:
The Florida Project
The Green Book
If I send you an email will you write back?
I read every email I receive, but due to the volume of emails, I may not always be able to write back. But! If you send me a letter at the address below, Scholastic will send you a letter back from me!
Is it true that you went to college at 13?
Yes and it was an incredibly traumatic experience (because academically you're one age, but emotionally you're a totally different age, and of course everyone around you is so much older) so I wouldn't recommend it!
Will you come to my school?
I do school visits as my schedule allows! The best thing to do is have your teacher or librarian contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to the demands of my schedule, I unfortunately can only accommodate a handful of school visit requests per year! I am unfortunately not able to do any Skype visits at this time.
Can you give me any writing tips?
I'd love to! Here are my all time fav tips and I have made videos on all of them:
How do you show not tell:
How do you plan before you write:
How do you get over your fears and doubts when you write:
How do you take something that happened to you in real life and use it as a seed and turn it into fiction:
Do you have any tips and advice for dealing with getting teased in school? How do you fight discrimination?
Excellent question! The best way to fight discrimination is to speak up about it. I've made two videos on this topic with my tips and advice for:
How do you fight discrimination:
How do you deal with being teased:
Who is your favorite author? What is your favorite book?
I have MANY favorite authors:
Louisa May Alcott
Laurie Halse Anderson
F. Scott Fitzgerald
All of them have inspired me in their own way. Probably my favorite book of all time is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith because it was the first time I saw poverty depicted on the page.
Do you have a dog?
Yes I have a dog! He is a labradoodle and I write with him every day! His name is Cody and here's a picture of him: