How did you come up with idea behind Across The Universe?
My main idea came from reading other books. Megan Whalen Turner had a twisty plot in THE THIEF; Jeanne du Prau (CITY OF EMBER) and Agatha Christie (MOUSETRAP) had a contained mystery where the characters were trapped; Mary Pearson used science like magic in THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX. All these ideas percolated in my brain until they became a murder mystery on board a space ship!
How did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I've always written, ever since I was very young. But I had been told since I was very young that it would be impossible to make a living off writing, and that it wasn't a career. I spent rather a lot of time becoming a responsible adult before I decided I'd rather just do what I want.
Did you listen to any certain songs while writing Across The Universe?
Yes! I tend to listen to songs on constant repeat while writing--I tune it out, but I like sound in the background. Mads Larger's "Fact-Fiction" was one I listened to a lot, as was "Still Alive" from the soundtrack of the video game MIRROR'S EDGE, a suggestion from my friend Heather. And, of course, the Beatle's song "Across the Universe."
Did you have any inspirations when dreaming up Amy or did she just come to you?
Amy was the kind of person I wanted to be--she's strong and sassy and doesn't put up with bull crap. However, when she's separated from her parents, I drew on how it felt to go off to college for the first time, alone and scared. My other MC, Elder, was the kind of person I was at the time--someone who desperately wanted success and was very eager to please.
Do you have a dream movie cast for Across The Universe?
I've no idea who would play the lead boy, Elder--it would need to be someone with a multi-cultural background. As for Amy, I'd love it if I could get the girl who plays Nathan Fillion's daughter on the ABC show CASTLE. She's got just the right look--red hair, ethereal eyes...
Any tips for aspiring YA or Sci-Fi authors?
Never give up! Never surrender! :)
Also: write what YOU want, and don't worry about the market. I thought there would be zero market for AtU, because there were no books out on the market for it. But that's exactly what made it appeal to my publisher, so I'm glad I was pig-headed enough to write the book even if I didn't think it would sell.
Any books you've recently read that you would like to share with us?
So many good ones! Kiersten White's PARANORMALCY is hilariously fun; Stephanie Perkins's ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS is beautifully romantic; Robin McKinely's PEGASUS made me cry...so many good ones out there!