1) What is it about writing that you enjoy most?
I love words, and I love interesting worlds.
A true nerd, I am fascinated with words. I love the sound, the meaning, the history. I get excited by the use of a great word like gnarled or ornery or imbued. I love the imagery we can evoke through dialect or literary devices, playing with the sounds and the meaning of phrases. I love finding new ways to say old things. I just fucking love words. Including fuck. I use that word a lot. Oops.
From the time I was a little girl, I always escaped into an imaginary world to avoid the harsh realities of the real one. Usually, I did this through reading, placing myself into the stories I read. And as I went to sleep, I carried the stories forward in my own way, in my own voice. So, obviously I still love that escape. I love the fantasy.
But I also love connecting with readers and making them feel. I think there is great power in words, and I want to show girls that women are strong, intelligent, and capable through my characters. Even when they fall apart, they always find a way to put themselves back together.
2) Where do you like to write? Living room? Bedroom? Kitchen? Where do you find your 'happy writing place'
Actually, I usually write either in bed or at a Panera/Starbucks restaurant. I have written all my books on my iPad, so I can easily lay back with it on my chest and compose in comfort. But sometimes I need collaboration, even if we're not working on the same text. I have a writer friend I went to NYU with, who I will meet at a restaurant halfway between us. We both write teen fantasy and new adult, and it is incredible to have someone to bounce ideas off, especially when one of us gets stuck. I've also started a writing club at the high school where I teach, and occasionally I will have a Saturday writers' workshop at the neighborhood Starbucks or Panera with them. And I get just as much benefit from bouncing ideas off these teenagers as I do my old college friend.
3) All your works have very different themes. From fantasy and magical, to sci fi, to fan fiction. Where do you get your concepts?
There is nothing new under the sun. I take inspiration from the books and writers I love and from the music that moves me.
Black Mist was written as pure escapism, loosely inspired by the Harry Potter series. I am obsessed with Professor Snape, aka my boyfriend. Spoiler: he dies. And when he died, I desperately wanted a way to save him, which is why I developed the character Rose, who can heal empathically (she must suffer as the person suffers before she can heal). After years of it swirling in my head, I finally wrote Black Mist back in 2011, altering the world and characters enough that it is an entirely original work now.
The Other One, my first attempt at One Direction fanfiction comes from a much darker and more realistic place. I learned that my brother, who suffered terrible abuse during our childhood, had contemplated suicide. The idea that I could have lost him haunted me. Almost as a therapeutic exercise, I began to write about the most troubling and traumatic moments in my life, with a Harry Styles love story as the vehicle. It is almost 900 pages of loss and redemption, and I'm very proud of it.
The Plague, a futuristic, post-apocalyptic tale comes from my obsession with and fear of a future filled with dilapidated, boarded-up buildings. If you drive through middle America, so many small towns look like ghost towns--today. Even here in Los Angeles, there are streets with storefronts boarded up and graffitied as if it is the end of the world. While these sights give me anxious butterflies, I am fascinated to ponder what may ultimately lead to our downfall.
4) Of all the genres you've written so far (fantasy, sci fi, fan fic) which would you say is your favourite and why?
I can't pick a favorite. I will always have a place in my heart for Black Mist since it was the first book I ever wrote. But The Other One is so personal, so emotional, and so full of smut. And I love smut. The Plague is just disgusting and gritty, and I love that too. So, I don't know. Each is my favorite while I am working on it.
5) If you could pair up with any other writer, published or not, to collaborate on any work, who would it be, and what would you want to write?
So interesting you ask...your last interview subject Liz, @hesinstripes, and I are collaborating on a tongue-in-cheek sex ed "textbook" for girls. It will touch on body image, sexuality, anatomy. All the things we wish someone had told us before we started having sex. Or even once we were!
I also have a collaboration with one of my former students who participated in the writing club. Marisa, @thatgalwhosings, and I are working on a suspenseful fanfiction with Louis Tomlinson as the lead character.
Beyond those two planned collaborations, I would truly love to work with John Green or Rainbow Rowell. These two authors never fail to make me laugh and weep. I want to make people laugh. I want to make people weep. I mean, people other than my students.
Annie Walker, @walkstar, has been teaching English and journalism in Los Angeles for 13 years.
Haunted by the suicide of her older brother, Maddie Turner knows who her
overbearing mother expects her to be, but she still doesn't know who she
REALLY is. When she meets Harry, a musician and creative writing student,
she discovers her true self, the one that was hidden just under the surface, all along.