What inspired you to write poetry, and eventually write a novel in verse?
Although I appreciate poetry, it’s the narrative found in verse novels that reels me in. Reading really good young adult books inspired me to write YA and the same is true about verse novels. Reading Sonya Sones, Steven Herrick, Lisa Schroeder, and others got me thinking about writing in verse.
So when I found a character and story idea that fit the format, I wrote a few poems to get to know my main character and the setting. Those few turned into a few more—until I had a novel’s worth.
I have to check out the authors you listed… I have thing for verse novels now! I was definitely a Leftover in high school, so I LOVED that you incorporated this group into the story. Were Leftovers part of the story from the beginning?
Yes, the Leftovers—and the feelings associated with being a high school Leftover—were an integral part of the story. Marcie loves her eclectic group of friends in Boise, but when she happens upon a chance to be popular at her new school she takes it. And when J.D., a soccer-playing jock with a Prince Harry grin, pays attention to her, Marcie is totally flattered. Something like that would have never happened to her at her old school. This leads her to do what she does.
How would you define your writing process? What part do you love the most? The least?
I am a write-by-the-seat-of-my-pants author—so much so that I don’t know what will happen in my manuscript until I write it. For LOVE AND LEFTOVERS, I didn’t know the exact plot while I was writing it. I just had a basic idea in my head and wrote random poems from Marcie’s point-of-view. Then, I put the title of each poem on the 3×5 card and began shuffling them into chronological in order to create the story.
My favorite part was capturing how Marcie was feeling and finding the right words to express her emotions in a poem. My least favorite part was editing my first pass pages. (This was the step where we went from 8.5 x 11 paper to book-size pages.) And none of the poems fit in the layout! There were broken lines everywhere, poems that ran onto two pages, and tabs and indents that didn’t work.
Getting the poems to fit the pages correctly sounds like a nightmare, how frustrating. What do you enjoy doing in your free time? Any hobbies? Writing doesn’t count!
I have a horse and I keep him in my backyard. Although I’m not the world’s best equestrian, I enjoy riding. We have dabbled in dressage and done some jumping. Somewhat related, I’ve been in the model horse hobby since I was a teenager. I collect, paint, and show sculptures of horses. I like minis—sculptures that measure about three inches tall.
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?
I’m a graphic designer by day and have a Masters in Fine Art—so I’ve studied a lot of art history over the years. I’ve been really lucky and have visited a few of my dream locations, such as Dessau, Germany—home of the Bauhaus—and Paris with all of its lovely art and architecture. Italy is on my list of places to visit for its treasure troves of amazing art.
I love Italy! I’ve only been to Rome but I would love to go back and explore the country more. I’d LOVE to read more from you! Are you working on a new project? If so, can you tell us anything about it?
I just sold a new book to my editor at Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins. The working title is FAN ART and it’s a contemporary YA about a high school senior who hijacks his school literary magazine. It began as a short story in verse and is now written in prose—but I’m hoping to sneak in some poetry between the chapters. I’m about 100 pages into it, so we’ll see how it goes.
That’s exciting news! Fan Art sounds great, I can’t wait!
Many thanks to Sarah for stopping by to answer my questions. I loved Love & Leftovers and can’t wait for Fan Art!