I was born in London, England, and I moved to Canada in 2003 when I fell in love with a Canadian. We live in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, which took a while for me to learn how to spell. I have two children, a girl and a boy.
My first novel, Life on the Refrigerator Door, was published in 28 countries, won several awards and was named as a New York Times book for the Teen Age. My second is called Lost For Words in the US, and The Worst Thing She Ever Did everywhere else. It won the Arthur Ellis Award, was shortlisted for the White Pine and Willow Awards, and was published in eight territories. 40 Things I Want To Tell You is my newest novel for young adults. The Best-Ever Bookworm Book by Violet and Victor Small is my first picture book. It’s in production with Little, Brown Books For Young Readers, and a sequel will follow.
I’ve had non-fiction published in Easy Living Magazine, the Sunday Telegraph and the Bristol Review of Books; several short stories turned into radio productions; and one short story which was used to inspire a short film. I won the LG award in Saskatchewan for most promising artist under 30, when I was under 30, not soooo long ago.
Here are the answers to the questions I’m asked most frequently:
Where do you work? How much do you write a day?
I have an office in my house in Saskatoon and my desk is always messy. I try and read everyday and I always write when I have some childcare in place (Mondays to Thursday). I flit between hanging out with the children and writing furiously for a couple of hours. Barbara Kingsolver, who has three children, said something along the lines of ‘I don’t have time for writer’s block.” I keep that in mind.
Where do you get your ideas?
I read as much as I can and I think ideas often come subconsciously from the books I’m reading, from painting I’ve seen, from bits of overheard conversation. My best ideas sneak into my head when I’m not trying too hard to find them. This makes me believe that napping is essential! There have been lots of times when I’m drifting off to sleep that an idea slithers into my mind.
How long does it take to write a book?
It depends. Some of my books have taken years and years, others have been easier to write and so taken less time. Rewriting is a big part of the process for me, so even if a first draft went on the page relatively quickly, the rewriting seems to take ages.
How do you find a publisher?
I feel very lucky to have good publishers. For me, finding a publisher involved lots of rejection letters and lots of waiting around. I had to write many many things, I had to learn lots about writing better, and I had to let go of the idea that being published was the most important part of writing. Once I let that go and truly, honestly wrote only for myself, it seemed that the stuff I wrote was better, and then people wanted to publish it.
If you have any other questions, drop me a line on Facebook or Twitter, or ‘Leave me a note’ and I’ll do my best to answer.