What inspired you to write Pretty Girl-13?
At an inappropriately young and impressionable age, I was given a copy of the book Sybil, about a woman who suffered terrible abuse as a child and developed multiple personalities. I was terribly intrigued by the story and the movie version that followed in 1976. As an adult, I discovered that I knew someone who was a recovered multiple, and though we never spoke of it, my fascination rekindled. When the storyline and title came to me in a flash of inspiration one morning in 2009, I asked this person if I could have an interview. I read several autobiographies in preparation for writing. Pretty Girl-13 is not this person’s biography, but an invented tale reflecting some common threads of all who have experienced splintered identities.

How did you choose the setting?
Coming from California, I knew the mountains and surrounding communities offered a perfect location. I researched two possible spots in person and with Google Maps satellite view before choosing the Angeles Crest.

Will Pretty Girl-13 be released in my country?
Click the "NOVELS" tab to see the latest on where Pretty Girl-13 is published in translation.


Why do you write books for teens?
Arrested development?

No, seriously, the teen years are the most vivid years of our lives because of all the emotional, social, and intellectual changes and challenges. I still feel connected to my teen self and aspire to represent those roller coaster years authentically. I love to write about ordinary kids who are called to face extraordinary challenges and make impossible choices.

How do you become an author?
Write until your fingers bleed. Bang your head against the wall till the wall surrenders.

When did you write your first full-length novel?
From 2002-2004, I wrote a tween sci-fi novel for my two boys called The Captain’s Kid. I read them the new pages every night.

What is the best part of being an author?
You always have something interesting to talk about at a party.

Do you write all by hand or type your work?
Both. Sometimes I write by hand and revise as I type it in, and other times I go straight to the computer. I used to back up by printing everything. Now I mail it to myself and let the cloud remember.

Have you had careers other than writing?
I worked in a hospital for seven years during the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. We also had to deal with old asbestos and earthquake safety for hospital buildings, so it was a crazy time.

What do you have within arm’s reach as you write?
A pretty pen--green, purple, teal, or pink; a notepad; post-its; a laptop; and the all-important cafe latte.

What is the most rewarding part of writing?
When the story finds you.


What is your favorite type of chocolate?
Are you kidding? Don’t make me choose! Dark chocolate...or semisweet chips...or Cadbury milk chocolate...or...what are you offering?

What car do you drive?
A blue Honda Civic Hybrid.

What did you want to be when you were little?
An astronaut or scientist.

What color was your favorite Crayola crayon?
It’s a tie between blue-green and red-violet.

What book have you read the most times?
Pastwatch by Orson Scott Card (4) and the Miles Vorkorsigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold (4).

Which of your vacations was your favorite?
Going to Belize, because I loved the scenic beauty, the history, and the people. Also, I was inspired to write Out of Xibalba on that trip.

How many pets have you had throughout your life?
12 cats: Tinkerbell, Whiskers, Nosy, Smat, Monkey, Cutty Sark, Jameson, Tom Kitten, Bunter, Jeeves, Patches, Tiger, Pippin and Merry; 3 fish: Shu, Shu-Two, and Rosy; 2 mice: Squeaky and Bouncer; 2 guinea pigs: Matthias and Methuselah; 1 dog: Yeesha. Tiger, Pippin and Merry are the survivors.

Where would you most like to live?
Mars or Sonoma Valley--kind of a toss-up.

What is your favorite movie?
Groundhog Day, because it’s all about having a fresh chance every day to make the world a better place and make yourself a better person until you get it right.