1. What inspired you to write Francey?
I’ve always had a fascination for the subject of reincarnation due to unexplainable childhood experiences. Somehow I knew of things I shouldn’t have, and had memories which didn’t seem to belong to me. This fascination grew steadily over the years until recently it took me by the throat, insisting I do something—anything—to set my mind at ease. And since I hadn’t been able to figure out what my own deal was back then, I decided to hand a similar situation over to someone who had a fighting chance of figuring out what was going on. And, voila, Francey sprang to life. The thing I truly wished to accomplish with her was a story written in such a way that it wouldn’t even occur to the reader that what she held in her hands was a fantasy. And though that’s how it’s being billed, I no longer think of it as such.
2. Who was your favorite character to write about from Francey?
It’s funny you should ask me that. It‘s a question I’ve waited for, and yet, you‘re the first person to pose it. Lizzie, without question, is my favorite character. I mean, I love them all, but there’s something so special about her. And even though she‘s my creation, still I find it difficult to put into words exactly how special she is. To me, the story is just as much hers as it is Francey’s, and I tried to convey how I felt, not by description—for no amount could do her justice—but by action. I dearly hope I succeeded.
3. If you could go back in time to explore any time period, which time period would you like to visit?
The time period I’d wish to visit has more to do with whom I’d like to meet, rather than with the actual historical period itself. Hands down, with nothing even in second place—France, toward the end of the Hundred Years War. Allow me to explain:
Joan of Arc, as far as I‘m concerned, was the most incredible being to ever grace the surface of this planet; and it wouldn’t take much nudging to get me to turn this into a treatise on the sainted ‘Maid of Orleans.’ I’m desperate to fight by her side; and if I’m unable to prevent her capture, I’ll attempt a daring rescue, snatching her from the flames as they begin to lick at her ankles. And if I fail, at least I’ll have met her, spoken with her, and maybe even have touched her hem. And just incidentally, there’s a story about her—a work of fiction—brewing deep within the dark recesses of my mind, just itching to be put on paper.
For anyone interested in why I feel thus, I recently wrote a short essay about her; it’s posted it on my blog and can be accessed
4. Do you believe in an afterlife or reincarnation?
I was pretty open to the idea of reincarnation before; but after writing Francey, and having so rational an explanation handed me by Uncle Jules, well . . . why don’t we just say that I’m more open than ever to the possibility of having lived before?
5. Are you working on any new YA novels at the moment?
I had originally intended on immediately writing a sequel to Francey, as I’m anxious to spend more time with my newfound friends. But something else has pushed it aside, if only temporarily. I’m reticent to say too much at this point, except that it will be a tale of suspense, bordering on horror. Though not the kind of horror that will play havoc with your mind, spooking you for days and weeks hence. I don’t know how else to describe it without going into the plot, so we’ll all just have to wait until it hits the stands.
6. Are Rembrandt and Monet favorite artists of yours? Or does another artists hold the spot of favorite artist?
Yes, regarding Rembrandt and Monet. And for those of you who have yet to read the book, this question pertains to the fact that Rembrandt and Monet play a fairly significant role in the story. Rembrandt, most especially.
I don’t pretend to be an art connoisseur; just a lover. I grew up in New York City—which will be obvious to anyone after reading Francey— and one of my favorite hangouts was the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Upon entering that mighty stone building, I’d immediately make a beeline for either the Rembrandt Room or the Monet Room, and simply get lost in their artwork. That museum, and Carnegie Hall, are the two things I miss most about New York. (I currently live in the Los Angeles area.)
7. Do you have any favorite books?
If nobody minds, I’d like to take the liberty of quoting myself from an interview I gave a few weeks ago wherein I was asked the question: ‘What authors have influenced you in your writing?’ And I’ll name my favorite books in the final paragraph.
Just like every other kid in school, the classics were thrust upon me; and being an immature young schoolboy, I wasn’t much impressed. When done with school, the thought of cracking open one of those books again, this time for pleasure, didn’t enter my mind. At least, not for quite awhile. Why I decided to give them another chance is a story in itself; one which we’ll save for another time.
One reviewer said, in reference to Francey, that my writing 'echoes of 19th century literature, but is much simpler.' To me, this is a great compliment because it's exactly the atmosphere that I'm trying to create. I love the classical writing style, but I also love simplicity. Combining the two was a daunting task, because, almost by definition, the classics are anything but simple; but there are some, at least, who think I've managed it quite successfully.
The authors who’ve most influenced me are from a bygone era. They are those whose names are mentioned in Francey: Charlotte Brontë, Jane Austen, and Charles Dickens. Whenever I'm feeling uninspired, or lazy, or distracted, I'll open up a copy of, well... Jane Eyre, for instance... and read through some of my favorite passages. And just like that, I've perked up, and am ready, once more, to keep on trucking. I swear to God, if Charlotte Brontë were alive today, I’d seek her out and ask her to marry me.
And to answer the question posed to me here, my favorite books, if I had to narrow down the field, are Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, and David Copperfield. I actually get teary-eyed just thinking about them.
8. Any advice for aspiring writers?
I’ve read so many articles and interviews of authors spouting advice on this subject that I’m not sure I can add anything new to the mix. But I will tell you what I keep uppermost in my mind when I’m putting pen to paper: Writing is evolutionary. In other words, it ain’t gonna happen overnight. Not for me. Not for you. Not for anybody. And when I’m stuck on a phrase, or a paragraph, or even just one word, I’ll leave it to stew in its own juices for awhile, letting it simmer until it’s fully cooked. And when I come back to it, a day, or a week, or a month later, it will be sitting on the stove, ready to be ladled onto the page. The given here, of course, is that the person doing the writing has read enough of decent literature to know what good writing is, thereby enabling him to be objective about his own.