Frequently Asked Questions...

How did you get published/ find your agent?

I'm not sure if the people who ask me this will be going to my website, but it is the question I am most frequently asked "in the real world". There are some different paths to publication, but mine was fairly typical. I wrote Magic Under Glass in the beginning of 2006 and sent it to a number of literary agents. (A good, reputable list of literary agents can be found at, and for information on submitting work to agents and editors, I always recommend the Blue Boards, a message board that is frequented by published authors and welcoming to newbies.)

Despite a number of requests for the full manuscript, no one wanted that version of Magic Under Glass. I did, however, have one agent give me some suggestions for improvement. She told me she would like to see it again if I revised, so I did, and I sent it out again. Still no takers, and this time I realized on my own that I wasn't ready. I let some months pass, and had an idea for another rewrite at the beginning of 2008. I wrote it and sent it to a new batch of agents, including Jennifer Laughran of the Andrea Brown agency, who was a new agent and one of my top choices. She loved it and offered representation. Once an agent offers representation and a writer accepts, the business part is largely out of a writer's hands, happily so. Jennifer sent it to a number of editors and we had an offer on the book 3 weeks later. I was very lucky in that respect, but as you can see I put a lot of work into the book before hand!

Do you have a playlist for Magic Under Glass?

I did, although I sort of lost most of my playlists when I switched computers. But I listen to a lot of 19th century classical, like Lizst and Chopin. I also listened to Victorian mechanical music, like player pianos and music boxes. Some of my favorites are Dutch street organs, which sound rather ominous. Lest you think my taste is completely archaic, I also listened to David Bowie (always), Franz Ferdinand, Muse, and the Everly Brothers. Yeah, that's kind of random, but "Love Hurts" was very appropriate somehow. One of the original inspirations for Magic Under Glass was listening to the Decemberists. I listen to pretty different stuff for every book usually. My current project is all Italian mandolins and the soundtrack to Whisper of the Heart...

Dutch street organ music
A wonderful introduction to mechanical music

Will you ever do illustrations for a book?

Because I sketch my characters (and rarely travel without a sketchbook) I get asked this a lot, but there is a big difference between sketching, or writing a story for my own enjoyment, and doing art in a professional capacity. I love to write enough that I'm willing to work hard to make a refined product, but I don't really like dedicating a lot of time to making my art polished. If a publisher, someday, wanted me to do illustrations? I guess never say never. But frankly, it's not on my list of things to do before I die.

What is your writing process?

It's different for every book. But, I will say I am an outliner, but not a hard-core one. I need to know some general path to an ending or an ending will never appear. Also, I have trouble writing when I know what I've done before is horrid. So I am mostly a revise as you go girl. I've never written a first draft that is so bad I wouldn't show it to anyone because I correct everything before hand. I do write pretty much every day, at least for an hour, usually several. That includes weekends, yes, I usually don't give myself a day off unless I'm out of town. I often listen to music as I write, although it isn't a requirement.

What are your favorite books?

The books I reread again and again are my childhood favorites, all semi-autobiographical children's series. Little House, Betsy-Tacy, and L. M. Montgomery's Emily books. It is probably no surprise that my favorite classic novel is Jane Eyre, and I love Jane Austen although I'm still working my way through her works. As a kid, some of my other favorites were Narnia, anything by Lois Lowry or Beverly Cleary, and of course, The Babysitters Club, being a child of the 80s. I read a lot of nonfiction, especially anything on everyday life in other countries or other periods of time. My favorite young adult novel is probably A True and Faithful Narrative by Katherine Sturtevant, a wonderful book that deserves more readership.