How did you get published?
I published my first book, SPOOKYGIRL: PARANORMAL INVESTIGATOR, after winning a publishing contract with a Penguin imprint in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award for Young Adult fiction. You can read more about SPOOKYGIRL’s road to publication in this series of blog posts.
Do you still write YA paranormal?
My current focus is on YA contemporary; I really dig the diversity movement going on in YA publishing right now, and I’m proud and humbled to have the opportunity to add some of my own experiences to the genre. My latest book, MAMMOTH, is about a summer internship at an Ice Age dig site. It tackles issues like self-confidence, the lasting effects of bullying, and the need for more girls and women in science-related fields.
MAMMOTH is about paleontology. Are you a paleontologist?
I’m not, but I’ve loved the subject since I was a kid. While researching MAMMOTH, I worked with several paleontologists and trained at an in situ Ice Age dig site, the Waco Mammoth National Monument in Texas. I learned how to dig and prospect for fossils and how to rinse and screen-pick sediment from dig sites. MAMMOTH is full of the paleo goodness I geeked out over in Waco.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It depends. Drafting MAMMOTH took several months because I had so much research and learning to do along the way, and then it went through some extensive revisions because the rough draft was a trash fire (as rough drafts often are). SPOOKYGIRL was my 2007 NaNoWriMo project, so I wrote the rough draft in a month and revised it over the following few months.
What are you working on next?
As of August 2018, I’m focused on getting MAMMOTH out into the world. Beyond that, I’m tinkering with a heavy revision of my 2017 NaNoWriMo draft. So far it has no official title, but I usually refer to it as the Spark project. I don’t know how to describe it yet, so I usually go with something like, “It’s a queer YA Floridian Gilmore Girls about love, physics, and chosen family.” After that, I’m planning to draft a feminist YA horror novel.
When will the next SPOOKYGIRL book be out?
Dutton was not interested in developing SPOOKYGIRL as a series. However, I have enough notes for a trilogy, and I’d love to find a way to get the rest of Violet’s story out there someday.
Tell us about the monkey!
There’s no monkey! Who told you about a monkey? You can’t prove anything!
Actually, NaNoMonKey has been my NaNoWriMo mascot for years:
MONKEY IS JUDGING YOU
He sits on my desk and stares at me while I write. If I don’t hit my minimum wordcount for the day, he flings poo. He’s not a particularly pleasant monkey.
Seriously, pay no attention to the monkey. Attention just encourages him.
If you weren’t a writer, what other job would you want instead?
Ghostbuster. Definitely. 2016 reboot-style. Holtzy needs a lab assistant, and that assistant is ME.
I MEAN LIKE SERIOUSLY WHERE DO I SEND MY APPLICATION
Okay, but what’s with that “Keeper of the Lab Coat” business in your site header?
I own the blue-gray lab coat Holtzmann wears when she dances around with blowtorches in the above-mentioned reboot. Like, the actual screen-used coat. There are several screen-used versions of it; mine is the popped-collar one from the dance scene. When I had to pack my most important possessions in preparation for Hurricane Irma evacuations in 2017, the first thing that went into my suitcase was that coat. No, you can’t try it on.
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