You are an editor for Scholastic. How does this job affect your work as a writer? What do you like the most about being an author and an editor as well?
I love playing with other people’s words as much as I love playing with my own, so writing and editing allows me to do both. Editing definitely exposes me to all these brilliant writerly minds, and no doubt informs the way I use my own.
How was your childhood and teenage years? Did you always know what you wanted to be as a grown-up?
I don’t think it would come as any surprise to anyone who knew me when I was young that I turned out to be a writer and an editor. Words were always the things I loved to use most. It was in no way an unpredictable path for me, and luckily my family and friends were all very supportive.
We have read that from time to time you arrange writing retreats with other fellow writers to work without disturbance. How are these “writer's havens” organized? What benefits come from them?
I am lucky to have a lot of writer friends, and every now and then, we just need to escape the city to get writing done. It’s a great balance – a lot of typing during the day, and a lot of fun and conversation and wine at night.
You have written several novels in tandem with other writers. Rachel Cohn is one of your regulars. What do you like about working with her? Do you have anything new planned together?
The best thing about Rachel and me writing together is the energy we draw from one another – and the way we always keep one another on our feet. Right now, she’s in the middle of writing a four-book solo series (which is awesome, and starts with the novel BETA) … but hopefully when she’s done, she’ll find me waiting at the other end.
If you could choose any writer, alive or dead, who would you choose to write a novel with?
Besides the authors I’ve already written with, I dream of writing a novel with Libba Bray. And sometimes the dreams are really inappropriate.
You also have a collaboration done with a photographer: Every Me, Every You, a combination of photos and text. How was that experience? How did you two organize the work?
It was really revelatory – Jonathan gave me photos one at a time, not knowing what I was writing, and I drew a narrative from them. All collaborations are a challenge in some way, and I loved the challenge this gave me, and as a result I created something I would have never, ever written on my own.
Sexual identity in teen literature is both a taboo and a demand. What is your opinion about LGBT in the present young adult literature?
It’s really not a taboo anymore, thank goodness. At least not for the vast majority of teens. So I think it’s just one of the many truths we must try to tell.
In your new novel, Every day, A, the main character, lives a complex life changing bodies every morning. What opportunities did you see in this original idea?
It was very thought-provoking to have a character who has no set identity other than a self – that is, no gender, no race, no parents, no friends – none of the things that we usually identify a person by. It made me really go down to the core of what makes a person a person, on the inside. And then I grew the character and the story from that.
In Every Day there are a lot of teenage themes being dealt with: insecurity derived by the looks, family relationships, fear to show one’s feelings… Did you experience this kind of things as a teenager or was it more a result of an observation exercise?
It’s certainly a mix of both. Some of what A goes through, I felt as a teen (or even feel now). Other experiences were purely observational or intuitive.
A wakes up every morning in a new body always within several hundred kilometers radius. Have you thought about continuing the story presenting other situations in other countries?
Have I thought about it? Yes. Will I do it? Time will tell.
As editor and writer for and about young people we value your opinion very much. What YA titles, new or old, would you recommend for our staff?
Eliot Schrefer’s ENDANGERED, A. S. King’s ASK THE PASSENGERS, Nina La Cour’s THE DISENCHANTMENTS … I could go on, but I’ll stop there.
What can you tell us about Invisibility, your new book written in collaboration with Andrea Cremer?
My character is a boy who was born invisible. Clearly, this is my bodyless character stage.
Nick and Norah’s infinite playlist was made into a movie in 2008. How was your involvement in the project (beside the cameo at Veselka diner)? Were you happy with the result?
Both Rachel and I were thrilled with the movie. And our involvement was as thrilled bystanders.
You are the founding editor of the PUSH imprint which “is about discovering the voices of here and now”. What drove you to create this imprint? What do you in PUSH try to find?
We want to keep discovering new authors and new voices. Because you can never have too many of them in literature, and there are always more stories to tell.