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Frequently Asked Questions

When did you start writing?
I declared that I was going to be a writer when I was seven years old, after winning Honorable Mention in a Cricket magazine contest for a story about bugs called “Underground.”

What is the most important thing you’ve learned about preventing teen problems?
That they are all connected. Using substances makes a person less able to set appropriate boundaries, which can lead to sexual assault, dating violence, unprotected sex, HIV/STIs, unplanned pregnancy and depression. The CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experiences Study shows that more than 20% of their sample young people had three or more risk factors.

What are your favorite young adult books?
My favorite books when I was growing up were The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton and The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier. I related to the themes of feeling misunderstood and not fitting in. I was grateful that Judy Blume wrote Deenie about a girl like me who had to wear a back brace to correct her scoliosis. Since Deenie had an easier time, I felt compelled to share my experience in my first novel.

What do you suggest to writers?
Join a writer's critique group for feedback and support. Become a member of a professional organization such as the Society for Children's Book Authors and Illustrators and the Women's National Book Association. Attend conferences to learn about craft and meet agents, editors and writing buddies. Take workshops and classes, enter contests that don't require a fee and attend author readings. Read widely!



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