I always write blindly and randomly for about 150 pages, then figure everything out, then write the rest of the book by filling in the blanks, knowing exactly where I’m going.
Love Story is about a girl who wants to become a romance novelist. Did you dream of writing in a particular genre yourself? Which one?
Early on I wanted to be the next Hemingway. I think most English majors are taught to think this way. Also, when I was growing up, my mother had an extremely snobby attitude toward romance novels, as if that was the worst, most damaging thing I could read--even though she was handing me her Mary Stewart books! But at some point I realized that even though I was trying to write more literary fiction, the part of my stories that interested me most was the romance. I decided to concentrate on that. And happily, my mother has lost her snobby attitude, because I have introduced her to Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, and Jennifer Crusie.
Of all the characters you've ever written, which one do you love or connect with the most? The least?
Lori in The Boys Next Door and Endless Summer is the character most like me. I was pretty frustrated with my editor when I started The Boys Next Door because I had gone around and around with her about the idea. So I just wrote exactly what I wanted to, so there. I thought it was funny and I really didn’t care whether anybody else thought so or not. When I sent it to my critique partner to read, she wrote me an e-mail that said, “OH MY GOD YOU HAVE WRITTEN YOURSELF!”
I feel some connection with the bad guys in my stories. As a writer you have to understand where they’re coming from or they won’t be believable. But the villain I have disliked most is Zoey’s father in Forget You. A lot of readers have picked up on this and mentioned it in their reviews. He is cold but scarily familiar.
Recently you announced that you have quit your job as a copyeditor to become a full-time writer (Huzzah! Congrats!). Maybe this is a bit premature, but are you now feeling the pressure to produce even more books or are you just reveling in the absolute freedom of being able to focus on your writing full-time?
Thank you so much! Honestly, I have always written a lot faster than the publishing industry wanted to go. For instance, I wrote Going Too Far in 2005, and it was published in 2009. I wrote Forget You in 2007, and it was published in 2010. My hope is always that I have a contract to write something new, but typically what happens is that I have deadlines and stress and write non-stop for several months, and then it’s all over and I am depressed and write something I’m not sure will ever sell and become convinced that I will never publish a book again. I hope that will not happen on March 1 when I finish writing the last of my books currently under contract, but I’m reasonably sure it will.
Are there any books out there you find yourself recommending over (and over) again?
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, One Night That Changes Everything by Lauren Barnholdt...and I haven’t yet read Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore, but I’m dying to, and it’s gotten a starred review from Kirkus. It’s coming out a week before Love Story, on July 12.