Old. I had to connect to the Internet with a phone line, and every time someone picked up the phone, I got kicked off.
May 1. I love chocolate cake, not vanilla, but I prefer lemon meringue pie best of all.
West Palm Beach, Florida. I grew up in Jupiter, Florida.
Somewhere in Florida. Still. The state is like a black hole that’s impossible to escape.
I’ve been with my partner for about six years. We have a fat Pomeranian named Chewie because he looks like a wookie.
Clowns. Not being good enough. Losing my Mom or my brother.
Sure! I do try to answer emails when I get them, but sometimes my inbox gets away from me. Send me your questions, and a deadline if you have one, and I’ll see what I can do.
They’re a metaphor for humankind’s distant longing to belong and…
Kidding. Do your own homework.
All of them? I will say that my first two books, The Deathday Letter and FML are a little different than the last three I’ve worked on. They’re a little more humorous and lighthearted (FML specifically), and I like to hope that I’ve improved as a writer since I wrote them, but they’re my babies, so I still love them.
If I have any left, you can email me using my contact form, and I’ll try to send you some. Just don’t forget to tell me where to send it.
Amy Boggs with Donald Maass Literary Agency. She’s the very best. If you’re an industry professional and you’re interested in acquiring foreign or movie rights, she’s the person to contact.
I’m currently only blurbing books for debut authors. And then only if I have time, which is in limited supply. But I love trying to help new authors, so if you’re a debut and you’re looking for a blurb, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.
They’re all based on real people. At least tiny parts of them are. My Nana loved to read and never learned to drive. My mother never worked as a waitress, but she loves Motown. My brother never peed on my homework or got his girlfriend pregnant, but we had a complicated relationship growing up. I shamelessly steal bits and pieces of all my characters from real people. But I’ve never based an entire character on someone I knew.
Rarely. I just sort of vomit words onto the page when I have an idea and hope I can fish an actual story out of the resulting mess later. For me, outlining is a surefire way to kill my creativity. Part of the fun of writing a first draft is figuring out what happens next. If I outline, I already know and I become too bored to finish the book.
I’m going to steal an answer from Kathy Parks, who wrote The Lifeboat Clique. Don’t think of difficulty writing as writer’s block. A block is something difficult to power through. Think of it instead as writer’s Jell-O. Jell-O’s not so scary, right? Jello-O is delicious. Especially the green kind. When you’re having trouble writing, eat the Jell-O. Jump into a giant pool of the stuff and swim in it. You’ll be writing again in no time.
Also, write every day. Even if what you write is gibberish. After a while you’ll find that you suffer writer’s Jell-O far less frequently.
As long as it takes. I wrote The Deathday Letter in 6 weeks. We Are the Ants took about a year.
Every day. Every. Single. Day.
Lots of somethings…none of which I’m allowed to speak about. My last book We Are the Ants came out in January. The paperback of the anthology I edited, Violent Ends, will be out in September of this year. January 2017, my next book At the Edge of the Universe will be out, and it’s about a boy who thinks the universe is shrinking. I have many more things in the works (my brain is a scary place), and I’ll update this FAQ when I’m able.
Everything. Which sounds like a BS non-answer, but it’s the truth. The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley was inspired by the music of Jack’s Mannequin, a bad TV show, a newspaper story, the time I spent training as an EMT/Firefighter, and the comic books I was reading at the time (Locke & Key and Kick-Ass). Inspiration is literally everywhere. The trick is to keep your mind open to it and allow your brain to make connections between the most random things.
Read a shit ton of books. Write a shit ton of pages. Ignore anyone who tells you writing is a fantasy or that you’ll never get published. Like anything else in life, if you want it badly enough you’ll get there.
Also, get a good writing chair and practice good posture. Your 35-year-old back will thank you later.
I get up at 5am on the weekdays and write until I have to get ready for work at 7:30. If I’m on a deadline, I edit or write more when I get home from work at 6. On the weekends, I’m lucky if I can sleep in until 8am (Chewie demands to be fed as early as possible), and I write until my brain starts leaking out of my head.
From a box under my bed. I keep them next to my jars of readers’ tears.
The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley
Could a young man have hid out in a hospital for weeks? Sure. There was a story in Florida where a teenage boy pretended to be a doctor for a few weeks before he was caught. But is is likely? Probably not. It’s very likely he would have been caught.
I definitely took a lot of liberties with the story. For example, Rusty would have been transferred to a hospital with a burn unit rather than being kept in intensive care. And the risk of infection for burn victims is extremely high, so even a sympathetic nurse wouldn’t have let Drew in the room with Rusty. It’s a fine line to walk between keeping the story realistic and doing what needed to be done to advance the story. Any mistakes are definitely mine.
Well, maybe. That was actually based on something that happened to me while I was training to be an EMT. I was doing a ride-along, and we got called to the house of a boy who had drowned. It was pretty clear he’d been dead too long, and the LT I was working under wanted me to see what it was like to perform CPR on an actual person, so he had me do it even though he knew it wouldn’t help.
Of course the difference is that I was a grown man who was training to be an EMT, and Drew was a boy who had no business being in the hospital. Sometimes fact can be far more unrealistic than fiction.
I certainly like to think so.
Pretty freaking awesome. Working with them was and remains the highlight of my career.
The story is about Kirby, but Kirby wasn’t the best person to tell his own story. To get an honest and true picture of who he was before he became a school shooter, it felt more right to let others tell his story.
We Are the Ants
I’m happy with where Henry’s story ended. But who knows? There are plenty of other characters I could write entire books about.
I think the real question isn’t whether he pressed the button, but whether, by the end, he wanted to. And to that question I can answer an emphatic “yes.”
I’ll also say that Henry and Diego may or may not show up very briefly in my next book. Just saying.
On a scale of puppies to baby pandas, he’s the cutest.
Yes. Yes it is. In this case, it’s wrong on purpose. Being that it’s Henry writing those sections, it seemed likely that he would have used Google Translate or some other terrible translation website to come up with the German he used. It made sense to me at the time.
The not-so-great translation of Space Boy I used, on the other hand…that was totally on purpose. Which is silly since I have friends who speak German and didn’t bother to ask them first.
Watch some Gilmore Girls and eat ice cream. I’m partial to season three and Publix brand Chocolate Moose Tracks.
I don’t know. What do you think? I will tell you that I got an email from a reader who guessed exactly at what I’d intended when I wrote the book, so there is an answer. But my answer may not be THE answer. The answer is whatever you want it to be.