How did you come up with the idea for Always Neverland?
When I was little, one of my favorite make-believe games was to pretend I was a Lost Girl, flying around Neverland with Peter Pan. I loved reading J. M. Barrie's novel, but I got so frustrated with Wendy: Why was she tucking all the Lost Boys into bed and darning their socks? You could play house anywhere. I played it in kindergarten class all the time. But in Neverland, you could have all sorts of adventures.
Many years later, when someone at work was talking about Peter Pan, this game popped back into my head, and I wondered: What if Wendy's great-great-many times great-granddaughter went to Neverland with Peter Pan? What if she was really different than Wendy? How would the Lost Boys react? My wonderful editor helped me come up with a fun, fast-paced story, and the result was Always Neverland!
What are some of your favorite books?
I have so many favorites, but I listed a lot of them in this post.
Do you have any advice for young people who want to be writers when they grow up?
First, read all the time, and read exactly what you want (in addition to the chapters that your teachers assign for school, of course!). You want to fill up your mind with as many characters and stories as possible.
You've heard about compost in school, right? People throw out leftover food and other garbage, and when it breaks down and gets nice and smelly, it becomes a mixture called compost. If you spread it over the ground, it feeds baby plants extra vitamins and helps them grow bigger and stronger. Well, your mind does the same thing with stories and characters. The more you put in your brain, the richer the imagination compost becomes, and the better and more vivid your own stories grow. Always Neverland has a lot of Peter Pan in it, but it also has a little bit of all my other favorite books as well.
Second, write a lot, and don't feel like you need to be perfect right away. Would you expect a famous ballerina to be as good if she didn't spend years and years practicing? Of course not! No writer can tell a great story without a little practice either.
Before I wrote Always Neverland, I wrote seven novel-length stories - starting with an alien story I scribbled down inside my desk in fifth grade. (It's possible that I went a little overboard on practicing.) I didn't show those practice stories to marry people, but that was okay. With each one, my writing got a little bit better.