1. First of all, congratulations on the 10 year anniversary of SLOPPY FIRSTS! Where did you get the inspiration to begin writing SLOPPY FIRSTS?
Jessica and I certainly have things in common. We both ran track and cross country, worked on the boardwalk, were considered Brainacs, wrote for the school paper. Most significant, we were both devastated when our best friends moved away. Mine moved under completely different circumstances from Hope, but her departure was the defining moment of my high school years. I thought a similar situation for Jessica would make the compelling start of a novel.
As for all the other characters, I started with the truth then started lying my butt off. That’s the fun of fiction. I picked traits and quirks from people I’d gone to school with and added huge doses of made up stuff. None of these characters would exist without my imagination….including Marcus Flutie.
I started writing SLOPPY FIRSTS in fifth grade in the sense that the journal entries I wrote between the ages of 10 and 25 were an essential part of the creative process. I was 26 when I attempted to turn all the material from my journals and ten years of creative writing classes into a novel. I was 28 when SLOPPY FIRSTS was published in 2001.
Technically SLOPPY FIRSTS isn’t a young adult novel—it’s published by Crown/Three Rivers Press which only puts out books for adults. I always hoped SLOPPY FIRSTS would have a crossover readership, one that would appeal to teens, twentysomethings, thirtysomethings….anyone who could relate to the traumas and dramas of high school. The irony? To depict high school as it really is (four letter words and all) I could only be guaranteed the uncensored freedom to do so at an adult publisher!
5. Thanks for the interview! Last question: what advice do you have to young writers who one day want to be published?
Focus your energy on developing your unique writers voice and don’t obsess over being published.
Thanks again go to Megan for choosing me for one of the bloggers, I had an awesome time coming up with the questions! Happy 10th (: