(That's my signed copy of Once Upon a Toad.)
I emailed her and asked six questions, so here they are with her answers.
First question: What type of novel instantly catches your attention in a bookstore and why?
Well, I know we're not supposed to judge books by their covers, but ... let's face it, covers are important! More often than not, though, the first thing that catches my eye is the author's name, especially if it's a friend, or someone whose books I love. Beyond that, if it's a subject that interests me (I'm a history wonk, so am often drawn to non-fiction), I'll check it out, or if it's on a bookstore's "Staff Picks" shelf, I'll give it a look as well.
2. How did you go about finding an agent and publishing your first book?
Actually, I published my first book before I found my agent. When I finished writing THE VOYAGE OF PATIENCE GOODSPEED, I sent it off to Kevin Lewis, an editor at Simon & Schuster that a friend had recommended. He very kindly called me a short time later, and basically gave me lots of praise and then said, "But honey, nothing happens for the first 100 pages -- you forgot the plot!" I will never be able to thank him enough for taking the time to give me a brief master class over the phone on how to plot, and for suggesting a few tweaks to beef up the storyline. I revised the manuscript, sent it back to him, and S&S published it. It was only after the book came out that I set about looking for an agent. (Who is the most excellent Barry Goldblatt, by the way.)
3. What's your favorite fairytale?
I can't pick just one! Diamonds and Toads. The Twelve Dancing Princesses. Sleeping Beauty. Beauty and the Beast. The Fisherman and His Wife. Rapunzel. There are far too many fabulous fairy tales to choose from!
[I think I fangirled a bit at her choices. Those are some of my favorites!]
4. One of my favorite jokes/puns in The Mother-Daughter Book Club series is the "whole nine yards" exchange between Mrs. Wong and Megan in Home for the Holidays. Do jokes/puns like that come naturally when you're writing, or do they take planning? [Side note: I've found that most of the jokes in my books take a bit of planning. I don't think humor is one of my fortes!]
They come naturally. Not necessarily in the first draft, but naturally. Writing for me is very organic -- things just tend to sprout and grow.
5. Can you give any hints about upcoming writing projects?
Yes! I just finished the first draft of my new book, ABSOLUTELY TRULY (coming in Fall 2014). It's set in a world that my Mother-Daughter Book Club readers will feel entirely at home in -- a small town like Concord, Massachusetts, but a fictional one in New Hampshire this time. Truly, the main character, moves there with her family to take over a small bookshop, where there's a mystery afoot...
[And this is where my reaction looked something like this...
That is super exciting news, don't y'all agree?]
6. Quick! 5 book recommendations for teens.
SPINDLE'S END by Robin McKinley. (I also love her books BEAUTY and ROSE DAUGHTER, both retellings of Beauty and the Beast.) I CAPTURE THE CASTLE by Dodie Smith (who also write 101 DALMATIONS). ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins. HOPE WAS HERE by Joan Bauer (anything by Joan Bauer). DAIRY QUEEN by Catherine Gilbert Murdock.
I want to take a moment to thank Heather again. (I've probably thanked her a dozen times already.) Hopefully my first interview didn't go too poorly, and I hope y'all liked it!