I can't really remember a time when I wasn't writing. As soon as I could write, I was scribbling little stories and diary entries and a drawing stories in picture form. It never seemed like a conscious decision, more like something that was just ingrained in my nature like breathing...
How long have you been writing?
My mom used to write down stories I would dictate her when I was barely 3 years old. I've actually been using voice recognition software since this past summer because of a repetitive stress injury, so I've been going back to my roots and telling stories with my voice! I started writing myself around five years old.
Can you tell us a little about your book?
It's a Victorian Gothic at heart, like Jane Eyre, with a creepy house, lots of secrets, and brooding, from a time before brooding was called "emo". It's about a foreign dancing girl who is hired to sing accompaniment to an automaton that turns out to be enchanted with the spirit of... yes, an attractive dude, of course. =D
How did you get the idea for writing Magic Under Glass?
I've always been fascinated with the Victorian era, especially the darker side... death and spiritualism and hair jewelry and all that creepy stuff. I really wanted to read a book that captured all of that, but there wasn't a lot to be found, and I was surprised, because at the time, A Great and Terrible Beauty had just done really well, and I knew I wasn't the only person interested in seeing more Victorian-era young adult. I'm not sure how the enchanted automaton idea came to me, but I've always found them very compelling. I saw an exhibit of Japanese automatic at the Morikami Museum in South Florida that was inspiring.
As for Nimira, the main character, I knew I wanted a plucky heroine in tough circumstances, but I didn't want her to be inspired by the usual poor Irish maid or formerly wealthy British girl that was most obvious. In the 19th century, everyone became very fascinated with "the exotic Orient" and the Middle East, so I invented a country based on bits of many other foreign countries and decided Nimira had come seeking her fortune as a dancer but she ended up being somewhat exploited.
Who is your favorite character in the book and why?
My favorite character in any of my books is always the love interest! I'm so predictable. So Erris is my favorite. I love that he was a bit of a carefree dandy before the tragedy of war that begins his story. In the original draft of the book, he actually wasn't the love interest (that character was written out entirely), he was a friendly ghost who befriended Nimira; I thought he was too flippant to be a love interest. The story became more interesting when I put a flippant guy in tragic circumstances.
If you could meet any characters in your book, who would it be and why?
I will admit, I think Annalie would be fascinating to talk to, although I might be too shy to say much to her. If I talk about her too much to you, it will be a spoiler, but anyone who reads the book will probably understand why I find her fascinating. (Oh my gosh, in other news, someone stop me from using the word "fascinating" in this interview.)
How long did it take for you to finish writing the book?
I started it in the middle of November, 2005 and ended up writing a completely new draft a total of three times before my agent acquired it in July of 2008. After that, my revisions were fairly minor.
Why did you choose to write YA novels?
I always wanted to be a writer, but when I was young there wasn't so much of a young adult market. But I've always loved children's literature. When I was in my late teens and early 20s I was still reading as many children's books as adult books! When the young adult market took off, it seemed absolutely perfect for me. I love tight writing and romantic love and coming of age, all of which work well with that market, and I love that young adult isn't as divided by genre. And now that the book is actually coming out, I get to enjoy perhaps the greatest benefit: how enthusiastic young readers are!
What’s the next step in your writing career?
I have another book coming out after Magic Under Glass, I just turned it into my editor a month ago and I haven't heard what season it will be, or talked to her about the title, but it's a love story between a mermaid who loves books (inconvenient, because they have a tendency to disintegrate under water and all that) and a winged guy, set in a city based on late 18th century Rome and Naples.
Any advice for future authors?
Well, I hate saying "read!" Because everyone does. But, do read. Write often and write what you love. Don't listen to people who scoff at your artistic pursuits, because they are usually unhappy people, and you don't want to take advice from people who are not joyful themselves.
Any other comments?
No... not really! Just, thanks for having me!