Get To Know Me Questions
How would you describe yourself to a stranger?
Author. Blogger. Bookworm trying read absolutely everything!
There is a fire and you can either save your book or the last slice of cake in the world. Which are you saving?
Probably…my book!? Which might be a bad decision because I can’t eat it later…
What some books have you read/ movies you’ve seen that have changed your life?
Despite feeling like a cliche, I truly have to say The Hunger Games! It really changed how I wrote, encouraged me to really hone my own voice, and it also opened the doors to Young Adult fiction for me. And then I had such a book hangover after it that I went looking for those lists of “what to read when you’ve finished The Hunger Games!” and that’s where I was introduced to Maggie Stiefvater, who is absolutely my favourite author. So I owe a lot to The Hunger Games!
What are some of your biggest pet peeves?
I am super peeved when people hate on others for loving harmless things! Just let people be happy!
How many siblings do you have?
I have five — four sisters and one brother.
What made you want to start blogging?
I actually have to blame my oldest sister…she suggested starting a blog. And though my first reaction was “what’s a blog lol”, I did start and obviously it kickstarted a huge part of my life for me!
General Mental Health Questions
How do you tell if a book has good rep if you don’t struggle with mental illness?
The best thing to do is ask the opinion of someone who also has that same illness — or read their reviews! I look for other markers too. For instance, if these problematic tropes pop up, I get concerned that it might be bad rep:
(1) is the character with the mental illness built purely on stereotypes?
(2) is the illness represented only by the villain?
(3) is the character only loved after they’re cured? or are they “cured” unrealistically?
When it comes to noting if it has GOOD rep, I often find the story really loves and cherishes its mentally ill characters! If I can, I also look to see if the book is #ownvoices (ie: the author has the same illness and is writing from experience).
Advice for bringing up the topic of mental health with a friend who is struggling?
Sometimes it’s easier to reach out through a text instead of in-person. Instead of cornering someone into telling you “what’s wrong”, make yourself available (if you can) to be a listening ear, a support. Often those of us with a mental illness feel like massive burdens, so belay that fear for us.
My family and ‘friends’ don’t care about my mental health, what advice do you have for that?
If you’re able, find an online community to support you! I’ve met amazing people online who struggle with similar things that I do, whether it’s depression or social anxiety. Books are also a safe haven to find comforting messages. But absolutely know, no matter what, you’re not alone. You’re not a burden. And you thoroughly deserve the best life you can have.
What is autism?
It’s a disability with such a huge spectrum that it’s rather hard to define! But it’s usually classed as having social and communication difficulties as well as very definite sensory sensitivities. It’s something you’re born with and, no, you can’t “catch” autism or develop it.
How old were you when you were diagnosed and what impact did your diagnosis have on your life?
I was diagnosed at 21! I’ve been autistic my whole life, but a lot of the autistic diagnosis markers are based on boys, and girls present differently. My life was really starting to unravel after highschool, a common thing for autistics who don’t transition well (like: from highschool to adulthood), and my family and I pursued answers…which turned into an autism diagnosis. Suddenly so many things made sense. It was a relief for me, a lightbulb moment. I had the information to find tools to make life easier for myself.
What is the biggest positive of being autistic?
Things I love: being intensely creative and seeing the world from a different angle. Taking such deep pleasure from small things. Being passionate and good with details and being easily accepting of other’s differences. When you’re different, it makes little sense to judge others!
What is the biggest challenge you face being autistic?
For me, it’s overwhelm. Too many people, a change in routine, a deadline, things being too loud…my ability to tolerate them is very low and throw more than two at me at once and it’s a recipe for disaster.
Have you had any negative reactions when people have found out you are autistic. What advice do you have for that?
The worst was being caught in an online conversation about eugenics where someone said to me that autistics shouldn’t exist. Being told you’re “defective” and the world would be better off without you is an actual gut-punch. Sometimes I think it’s best just to walk away from things like that and take care of yourself first. But if you feel able to, and have the tools, speak up. I wrote an article back, taking apart their flimsy thinking. But the whole thing did leave me shaken.
How do I support my friends/family members with autism?
Ask them what they need! For example: the expert on my autism isn’t a book, an article, or a psychologist. The expert is me. But I’m not the expert on the next person’s autism. So let the autistic have the voice, in any way they’re able to communicate. Also read lots of memoirs by other autistics. Never act like your autistic friend/family member is broken.
What are some things people don’t usually know about autism?
I honestly think most people know next to nothing about it! Which is why we need more accurate representations in books and media (preferably lead by autistic creators!). I find people get surprised at how many ways autistics stim (these are like self-soothing repetitive tics that we could do for hours). Usually you think autistics just flap or rock, but we have so many ways to safely stim and we love it! Touching textures, smelling things, listening to specific music, fiddling with things, dancing, finger movements, jumping.
How can society make things easier/ more accessible to autistic people?
Because autism is such a huge spectrum, it really depends on the individual. One thing I have deeply appreciated while beginning my career of being an author, is how my agent and editors have made communication accessible to me. I’m not great at speaking out loud, so we skip phone calls and work solely by email. Things like this make the world of difference. Don’t shut doors because you think an autistic “can’t do something”. Find another way to open the door.
Finish the sentence, “To everyone with autism, I want you to know…”
…you’re absolutely not broken and you are epic the way you are.
Finish the sentence “To everyone without autism, I want you to know…”
…autism isn’t an epidemic and it’s not a bad thing and the world is made fuller with us in it!
Do you have a writing routine?
I tend to write in marathon-sessions instead of everyday. So I don’t really have a day-to-day routine! Just basically: I take a few months to write an outline, then I whip up a first draft in a few days, take a break, then spend months revising.
Advice for moments when I don’t have motivation to write?
Make sure your creative well is full! It’s hard to write if you’re only giving out creatively and not taking in.
Favourite places to find writing inspiration?
I do so love listening to music and going on long walks.
When did you first decide you wanted to write and why?
I blame all the books I read! My childhood was made up of piles of books and my parents encouraged creativity, so it was natural that I turned to making my own stories.
Does it ever truly hit you, the fact that you’re a published author with fans worldwide who are inspired by you and your journey?
It’s still totally surreal! Every time someone says “Oh I loved your book!” my reaction is still, “REALLY!??!” Haha. I’m so pleased to be able to share my words and actually be able to hold my books and see them in bookstores! Never going to get over the magic of that.
How important is it to you to talk about the experiences you’ve faced in your writing?
In my latest book, The Boy Who Steals Houses, I did write about anxiety and autism — in ways that showed the characters weren’t broken and deserved loved. That was super important to me to be able to say.
Best tip for aspiring writers?
Keep going! It seems like a ridiculously obvious thing to say, but the truth is: the more you write, the better you’ll be. So despite rejections and failed projects…always keep writing something else. You’ll get there!
How has writing helped you manage your mental health?
Sometimes it’s been therapeutic, like when writing about anxiety. And I do love disappearing into my worlds of magic and mayhem as a break from reality.
Do you have a preferred point of view when writing and reading?
I do like 3rd person the best, I confess!
Do you think it’s harder to write from the point of view of the opposite gender? What changes? What stays the same?
For me, it’s not really harder? I just write people and my aim is always to get into that particular character’s shoes and figure out how they’d seen and react to the world. I feel that’s less about gender than about personality.
The Boy Who Steals Houses
What inspired you to write TBWSH?
My story inspirations always come from a huge collection of things! For this one, I wanted to write a genderbent Goldilocks retelling. I also love going for long walks and since I pass by a lot of seemingly empty houses, my author imagination started to work and ask, What if a teen broke in, not to steal, but just to live while the owners were away? It fit solidly with the Goldilocks tale so I meshed them together and The Boy Who Steals Houses slowly came into existence.
Are any of the characters in TBWSH inspired by people you know?
The De Lainey family dynamics are inspired by living with a big family myself…but I don’t pull particular characters to be inspired by real people! I would feel so awkward doing that haha.
If you had to pick your favourite quote in TBWSH which one would it be?
“We are the kings of nowhere. We only need us.”
What were the hardest and easiest parts of writing a #ownvoices novel?
Hardest: The pressure! Not wanting to make mistakes or badly write something that means so much to you.
Easiest: Knowing what you’re talking about! And falling into sync so easily with your characters because you know what they feel.
Did you have any fears when writing TBWSH?
I always am scared my books are secretly horrible and will explode into a poof of dark smoke as soon as they hit the bookshelf. Just, ya know, the normal fears.
What are some genres other than contemporary that you’d like to write in the future?
I’d love to write magical realism someday!
What are some of the biggest influences on how and what you write about?
I’m definitely influenced by what I read, the authors I admire, and what’s happening in society.
If you could have a sleepover with Sam, Beck, Avery, August or Moxie, who would you pick and why?
I think August would be the absolute best person to be friends with. She’s so kind and welcoming, will fill any awkward places with a smiles, and has zero judgements about anyone. She was one of my most loving characters to write and I adore her!
(buy A Thousand Perfect Notes)
(buy The Boy Who Steals Houses)
I started blogging because I needed a space where I didn’t feel restricted when it came to voicing my opinions and sharing my emotions and I found that, I found this amazing community of people who’ve changed my perspective about and opened my eyes to a lot of things.
I’m a better person because of those people.
From the very beginning, mental health was always something I wanted to talk about because it’s something very close to my heart and something I’ve struggled with for a very long time. Right from the get go I told myself that someday I would talk about my own issues, that, I would do it regardless… Continue reading FRIDAY 6PM