Here's the interview: (Bold Italics are Questions, plain text is her answers).
What inspired you to write Zitface? Did you have a problem with acne growing up that made you want to write Zitface to help tweens and teens deal with it?
I was inspired to write ZITFACE, based on my personal experience. I didn’t have acne when I was a teenager—but I broke out big-time after college. I had ‘adult acne’ off-and-on throughout my twenties…and I STILL get occasional zits (and use Proactiv). I saw various dermatologists, and used just about every antibiotic (including Accutane). When I had a breakout, I felt self-conscious going on dates and being around people. It’s hard to be confident when you feel ugly. That’s why I’m sympathetic toward teens who suffer from acne—they have to face people at school every day.
Who was your favorite character to write about- or just your favorite character in general- from Zitface?
Good question. I relate most to Olivia (I had a talent agent and went on auditions when I was 13, too) and I think she’s very likeable, but I probably had the most fun writing about Wendy. She can be self-absorbed and annoying, yet interesting…maybe even misunderstood. Wendy’s overly honest in some ways, yet tries to hide her deeper, insecure feelings. I wanted to explore this, so I’m writing a sequel now with Wendy as the main character.
Zitface is your debut novel. Are you very excited for it to come out in April?
It’s been a long coming…so yes! Writing a book is all about delayed gratification. I wrote the first draft several years ago, and it took much time to rework the story, find a literary agent, and sell the manuscript (in 2009). Then I had to rewrite parts of the story again! But I enjoyed the editing process, and received excellent guidance from Robin, my editor at Marshall Cavendish. I had no idea how many steps were involved in completing and publishing a book…but I’d do it all (and certainly hope to) again.
Speaking of Zitface being your debut novel, what made you want to write a book for young people? Have you always wanted to publish a book?
Ever since reading Judy Blume books as a kid, I wanted to be a writer. When I was ten, I cranked out short stories on my blue typewriter (okay, now I sound really old) for my friends. During my twenties, I had several fiction stories featured in (the now-defunct) ’TEEN magazine. Along the way, I became interested in working with teens, so I went to grad school and then worked as a school counselor. Writing was on the backburner for many years. It took me a long time to focus on writing a book, but I’ve had much fun along the way.
Do you have any advice for young authors who dream to eventually want to get their works published?
Mainly, to write regularly. Sounds simple, but it’s true. Life gets busy and it’s easy to procrastinate and do a million things besides write (I should know). Carve out daily quiet writing time, even if it’s just 30 minutes. Consider it a gift to yourself. Maintain your writing habit, and you’ll have something to show for it. If writing a book sounds daunting, try penning a poem, article, or short story—then research publications to submit them to. Seeing my stories in ’TEEN gave me needed confidence to write a book. Know that it’ll take a long time, and that’s okay. Just get started!
Look for Zitface in April!