The UnFairy Tale Books: Nov 2011, December 2012, March 2013, November 2013. The Dirt Diary Books: January 2014, July 2014
Two novels in 2013 and two in 2014?! Can you say Wonder Woman? We are so pleased to be in the presence of a super hero! You rock, Anna!
HOW in the world do you write so much, so fast, so great?
I didn’t start off writing books quickly! I used to be a total pantser (i.e. I never planned out books before I wrote them) and it took me forever to revise projects and make them not terrible. But after I got my first publishing contract, I started trying to find ways to make my writing process less sprawling, particularly because I also teach part-time at Simmons College, so I had to find a way to get the most out of my writing time.
Even though I’m still not an outliner, now I spend a good amount of time planning out emotional arcs, major turning points, etc. It helps me enormously to write a synopsis before I start drafting a story, so then I have that to keep me on track as I write and revise. That means I make fewer missteps along the way and that I can write books much more quickly than I used to. I also make sure to draft quickly to stay ahead of my inner editor—otherwise, that pesky negative voice would keep me from finishing anything!
Why should readers check out the newest book in your Dirt Diary Series: The Prank List?
Many readers that I hear from enjoy Rachel’s character, her wacky sayings (“Oh my goldfish!”) and her baking adventures. Well, there’s lots of that and more in The Prank List. Not only is Rachel enrolled in a baking class that proves to be a huge disaster but a rival cleaning service moves into town and Rachel finds herself in the middle of a prank war as she struggles to save her mom’s business.
Have you ever had a prank backfire on you?
To be honest, I am way too much of a rule-follower to be a prankster, so I don’t know if I’ve ever pulled any. As my husband can tell you, I hate things like pranks and surprises because they often involve lying to people; I think this is part of what fueled the story, in fact.
How will readers connect with this main character?
Rachel is like insecure middle school me times ten. She means well, but she doesn’t always do and say what she means to, and she’s always making mistakes even when she has the best intentions. I think he flaws are very relatable, as is her passion for baking and her desire to help her family.
Did your eighth grade year impact you in a particular way?
I was horribly shy when I was in middle school, and I never had the right clothes or the popular hairstyle or the fashionable sandwich at lunchtime. I took a lot of those feelings of isolation and doubt and worked them into Rachel’s story.
When you write, do you generally start with plot, character, world, or title?
I often start with a premise (What if a girl was a magical adventurer? What if a girl had to clean houses with her mom?) and work from there. It’s not until I find the right character for the story, though, that I really become invested in an idea.
I was excited to see that you also have some picture books coming out! Please tell us a little about them and the new Heart and Soul series that was just announced.
I absolutely love picture books, so I’m excited to have my first one coming out in Spring 2015 from Henry Holt. It’s a bedtime book called Power Down, Little Robot. That will be followed by Dogosaurus Rex in 2016 about a boy who adopts a dog from a shelter, not realizing it’s a dinosaur.
As for the Heart and Souls series, that’s what I’m currently working on now, so I could talk about it all day! But I’ll keep it short. This will be a new tween series with Sourcebooks. The first book, I’m With Cupid, will be out next summer, and it’s about a girl reaper and a boy cupid who kiss at a party and accidentally swap powers. The subject matter is a little darker than my other books, but I’m aiming to make it light and fun like my other novels.
Oooo! I can't wait to read them! Thank you so much for being our guest today! I’ll be eager to follow your work for many years to come!