Has your relationship with your son influenced your writing? In what way?
If you count interrupting my writing time for pesky necessities like, you know, food, then yes. Kidding, kidding… I don’t need reminders to feed my child. Usually.
Okay, seriously now: In some ways, he does influence me, especially with this book. Dani’s father starts from a place of no genuine interest in his daughter—she is nothing more than a means to boost his image as a family man, and to salvage his sinking acting career. But, as the story progresses, and despite his best efforts to stay distant from his daughter, Mark totally falls for his kid. He gets what it means to be a parent and what that kind of ferocious love can do. My son taught me about that.
Is your personality similar to any character in Relatively Famous?
As much as there are times that I still feel like a fifteen-year-old girl, and there are parts of Dani’s very compassionate and warm side that I connect with, her mother, Leila, and I are probably pretty similar. We both have a powerful devotion to our children, but couple that with a pretty decent balance of protectiveness and a willingness to let them go off on their own and figure out who they are separate from us. In RELATIVELY FAMOUS, Leila allows Dani to spend the summer in California with her rather inept father, Mark. It’s a struggle for her to let her “baby” go, but she is smart enough to swallow her own fears and to trust in her daughter. I like to think that I’m that kind of a parent, one who wants her child to venture off on his own, even when it hurts to have him grow up.
Do you keep plotting your characters' lives even after the story ends?
A little bit, yeah. Partially because it’s hard to let them go! I spent the better part of a year writing RELATIVELY FAMOUS, and I really missed these people that I’d spent so much time with. That sounds crazy, I know. But you know how it is when you read a story and get swept up in the characters? It’s ten times worse when you write them because authors are so much inside their heads. We know them like they are friends or family.
I handed in a manuscript to my agent, and the characters in that book are still with me very strongly. The last third of the book practically wrote itself. I understood the characters so well that I knew exactly what they would say or do in any given situation. It’s hard to drown yourself in these fantasy lives and not imagine what happens to them after the last page. Sometimes the futures I see for them are detailed and other times it’s just more of a general sense of where they would be in their lives.
Do you intend to write any kind of follow up for Relatively Famous?
I’m not sure yet. I have some ideas for continuing Dani’s story, but realistically it depends on how well this book sells. I’d love to see what happens to her as she tries to return to school and lead a “normal” life. I suspect she’d end up back in L.A. with her dad, and then we’d get to see how things play out between her and Nathan. I’ve played around with the idea of delving more into that hottie Jason, too. I think that there is a lot more to him than what we’ve seen. He comes from a pretty rotten, unavailable family, and that’s a lot of the reason that he’s been such a jerk. Some interesting stuff could happen if Dani gets more involved with him. And I’ve wondered about bringing Dani’s mom out to California… maybe seeing what happens with her relationship with Mark. It could be juicy. We’ll see…!
Are there any other projects you are working on?
My agent is shopping another YA novel now. I can’t go into too much detail about it, but it’s about a college freshman who moves to Boston. When her housing falls through, she ends up living with family friends and gets completely entrenched in their lives. The family is extremely quirky, but equally wonderful. The heroine develops an online relationship with the eldest son (who is away traveling) and strong friendships with the college-age son and preteen daughter that are still at home. It’s a deep character study of a very complex family system, but at its heart it’s a knockout love story.
If you were to suddenly discover you were the love child of a celebrity, which one would you want to be your dad?
Matt Damon, Josh Holloway, Joshua Jackson, Ed Westwick, Orlando Bloom, Hayden Christensen… Oh, you said Dad. Sorry. These are not appropriate father figures for me.
I’ll go with Harrison Ford. He seems like a fairly normal guy. Relatively unaffected by his celebrity status. Plus, hellooooo…. He’s Han Solo. ‘Nuff said.
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