Photo Credit: Belle Photography
What was your inspiration for starting the Arnaud Legacy trilogy?
I had a nightmare. The scene where Phoebe comes across the little stone cottage in the woods and climbs up to its roof? That was straight from the dream. When I woke up, I wrote it down and began building other scenes and characters around it until it became a first draft.
Did you always want to be an author?
Yes, pretty much. When I was in fourth grade, I was put into a special creative writing program, which was the first time I started thinking of myself as a writer. It was a long journey to publication for me, so maybe I should've aimed for an MBA instead of an MFA (ha!), but to be honest I feel grateful that I've always known what my passion is.
Who are some authors that influence your work?
Great question. I've been influenced by some of the masters of the horror genre: Stephen King and Shirley Jackson. Also Henry James for his magnificent The Turn of the Screw. I loved the John Bellairs series that began with The House with a Clock in Its Walls. Lois Duncan and Zilpha Keatley Snyder: I grew up in a time when Y.A. fiction was just beginning to take off, and I remember standing in front of the shelves in that section of the library and being so happy.
Tell us more about Phoebe Irving, the main character in Haunted. Will she continue to feature in the next books as well?
Yes, I’m excited that Phoebe will continue to be a vital part of the remaining books of the trilogy, although she will no longer narrate. Book 2 will be told by Miles, and Book 3 by Eleanor. I have a special fondness for Phoebe because she reminds me of myself in some ways: feeling shunted to the side (I was the youngest of four daughters, so I know we all have to share “face time” with our parents), feeling unsure of herself. But Phoebe is a very strong swimmer, whereas I think I spent about five years as a “tadpole” (the lowest level in my municipal pool’s swimming lesson hierarchy).
How would you personally classify Haunted? Do you consider it a young adult
Gothic mystery/thriller? A YA paranormal/fantasy? Something in between?
That’s an interesting question! Young adult author Michelle Gagnon called it a “neo-Gothic thriller” in her blurb and I’ve kind of adopted that. I know that it’s categorized under “New Teen Fantasy and Adventure” at Barnes & Noble, which is not where I expected to find it (in fact, I didn’t even bother to look there, and the bookstore employee very kindly guided me straight to it after I asked). I think paranormal fits, as does mystery. This business of categorizing books is pretty tricky. You want people browsing in the bookstore to come across it, so it’s important to be shelved where people’s interests lie.
Which are some of your favorite authors at the moment?
In the Y.A. world, I’ve been enjoying Danielle Paige (whose latest in the Dorothy saga releases March 31), Michelle Gagnon, and Alison McMahan. Danielle writes a revised, darker version of the Wizard of Oz story, which totally captivated me—and many others; her first novel in this series was a New York Times bestseller. Michelle writes incredibly-plotted hacking, conspiracy, abduction books—I know her in real life, and she’s so super nice. It’s hard to believe she can think from, for instance, the point of view of a serial killer. Yet she does it, and chillingly so. Alison writes historical fiction, and The Saffron Crocus is a wonderful book set in medieval Venice about a girl who wants to sing although that world is reserved for castrati boys. Throw in some murder and intrigue, and you’re off on a fantastic voyage.
What are some hobbies that keep you occupied when you are not writing?
I read voraciously (does that go without saying?) I love Zumba class and walks in nature. I don’t watch much TV but I’m hooked on Downton Abbey and Boardwalk Empire.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? Something that they can take away and use in their own writing process?
Yes! Anyone can come up with an awesome plot, but people who can keep chugging at page 200 when others run out of steam…those people are the real deal. So find time to write. Carve out a particular time, whether it’s 20 minutes a day, or a particular Tuesday when you have two hours to spend with your book—whatever works for your schedule. Just make sure it’s frequent and that you stick to it.