In suburban Kansas City, I began as a child poet and grew into a journalist. I was the editor of my junior-high and high-school newspapers. I went on to study journalism at the University of Kansas and law at the University of Michigan Law School. Along the way, I had a ton of jobs. I worked as a popcorn popper at a movie theater, a cashier at a gas station, a waitress at a Mexican restaurant, a switchboard operator for a bank, a telemarketer, and a receptionist for a small law firm. I served as a reporting intern for various small-town papers and the Dallas Morning News as well as a marketing intern for a greeting-card company in Kansas City, an oil company in Oklahoma, and a non-profit organization in Topeka. I also held summer/semester clerkships at a judge’s office in Kansas, a small women’s-rights firm in Michigan, and a legal aid in Hawaii.
After graduation I moved to Chicago, where I worked briefly in the law office of the Department of Health and Human Services. But after six months (and a long talk with some ducks in Lake Michigan), I quit my day job to write full time. I eventually relocated and settled in Austin, where I live with my husband and sometimes co-author, Greg Leitich Smith, and four dedicated writer cats.
I love to literally plunge into my fictional world.
For Tantalize, I went house shopping for my characters, confessed my intentions to the realtors, and walked away with floor plans and photos. At the local coffee shop, I tapped hirsute folks on the shoulder and asked if I could take pictures of them to use as models for shape-shifters. I also made a point to dine at every Italian restaurant in Austin.
For the New York Times best-selling novel Eternal, I walked every Chicago street that my characters did, trying to see the landscape anew through their eyes. I made notes on the sounds, the smells, the chill in the air. The ink in my pen froze on Navy Pier, and I ended up cutting that scene anyway.
What I love most about being a young adult author is hearing from young adult readers! I’m happy to answer questions about my novels and to recommend additional books by other authors.
Three Things You Might Not Know About Me:
1. I live in a haunted house.
2. I saw Star Wars: A New Hope (back when it was just called Star Wars) 370-plus times in the theater.
3. My phobias are: heights, enclosed spaces, children under three, flying monkeys, and lettuce. (It’s not the lettuce itself; it’s what may be lurking inside the lettuce.)