About families, mostly. My stories are about geeks–often half-Indian like me–struggling with all the usual teen drama. Except with flair, verve, and fun.
WHY FAMILIES? WHY NOT PARANORMAL ROMANCE OR FANTASY?
It is amazing how many well-meaning people ask why I don’t clone Harry Potter or Twilight. The truth is, though, as much as I enjoyed the Harry Potter books (I still haven’t read Twilight), they’re not me.
They’re not dorky or screwed up enough.
I am a dork, a geek, a nerd. And I have a great family (no cupboards under the stairs for me). But I love the realism of contemporary YA, of trying to capture the sense of belonging and not-belonging, the black sheepiness I still associate with being a teen. Especially since I’m not sure we ever truly grow out of the need to belong somewhere; the window dressing just changes.
Of course, when I write belong I don’t mean conform. I use belong in the sense of being comfortable, needed, wanted, and loved by a particular someone or someones.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YA & ADULT?
A lot. A little. There’s a lot of crossover between YA and adult literature–you might have noticed some titles, like The Book Thief (Marcus Zusak) and The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman) appear as both YA and adult, but with different covers.
I think the major difference is simple–YA has to appeal to teens, while adult lit has to appeal to adults. It’s a simple audience breakdown. But there are a few, more subtle differences, too. While it’s okay for YA books to tackle issues (Sarah Dessen’s Dreamland is all about domestic/relationship violence, and Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak is about the consequences of a rape), they can’t rely on gratuitous sex, violence, or language. Young adults are also much more likely to call an author on stories that don’t make sense, a voice that doesn’t feel authentic, or both.
WHY AM I A WRITER?
I ask myself the same question every morning.
Do I like writing? Sometimes. Not always. Many mornings I stare at the computer screen, skimming Project Gutenberg and wishing I could write as well as the dead authors listed there. But the thing is, even when I don’t feel like writing, I find myself cross-legged in the good chair, fingers moving ten to the dozen. I can’t seem to help it. I’ve tried being a scientist, a personal assistant, an housewife, a full-time ferret carer, and, now, a mother. But I never feel quite like myself unless I’m writing.