It’s hard to pin down one thing or one moment of inspiration because I think I’ve always made up stories. When I was a kid and couldn’t sleep at night, I’d come up with fairy tales in my head and continue the story the next night where I’d left off. My mom recently dug up a notebook of mine from a family vacation we took to Colorado when I was thirteen. I documented everything–exactly what each of us wore every day, everything we ordered at every restaurant, the weather, the songs on the radio. Sort of a fanatical attention to detail and a bizarre thing to read so many years later. I guess I was either going to become a detective or a writer!
What has been your favorite part of being an author so far?
Getting out from behind my computer to do readings, signings, and events where I get to interact with readers. I do love writing the books, coming up with characters and plots and settings is really so much fun–but it can also be isolating. I’m a very extroverted person and I love to be out in the world talking to people. I love to hear questions from readers and I really take them to heart as I go forward writing the series.
What inspired you to write The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove as a retelling of MacBeth?
It started with a desire to write about my high school experience. I went to a huge, huge school with 2,000 students per grade (really!). Football was almost a religion, so the stakes of winning homecoming king and queen were almost absurdly high. I’ve always wanted to write about the pressure to be the king or queen of a high school dance and what that really means. When I came up with Natalie and Mike’s relationship, their power struggle reminded me a little bit of the dynamic in MacBeth, which is one of my favorite plays. The comparison felt really fun, challenging, and productive–so I started to shape the whole arc of the story around the play’s structure. I loved having the chance to retell the dark, twisted story from the point of view of Lady MacBeth.
Where did the idea for Fallen come from?
I got the idea for Fallen from a line in Genesis that describes a group of angels who were cast out of heaven for falling in love with mortal women. I started thinking about what it would be like to be a normal girl–suddenly the object of an angel’s affection. What kind of baggage would an angel have? What would her very over-protective parents think? From there, this whole world unfurled in my head. Fallen angels, demons, reincarnation, and the war in heaven were all battling for a piece of the action. It was hard to stop the story from pouring out, and the characters developed organically as I wrote. It took me about two months to write the first draft, and another month to revise it after my editor and agent gave me some editorial suggestions.
Luce’s physical traits are based on my oldest, closest friend—the dark wavy hair, hazel eyes, tiny teeth, etc. When I first started writing her, I pulled some personality traits from this friend, but as I continued with her story, Luce veered away from my friend into an identity of her own. I share some traits with her—like her stubbornness and tendency to get swept away by romance. But if I had to which one I’m most like (though this is hard to imagine), I might be a crazy combination of Arriane and Penn.
Daniel was the most challenging, mainly because the full truth of his character has to come to light very slowly over the course of the entire series in order for the books to work. The reveal at the end of the first book was probably one that most readers saw coming…it is book about fallen angels after all! But there’s a much bigger, game-changing reveal about Daniel to come later in the series. It’s challenging for me to know what’s coming and only be able to show the reader so much at this point. Daniel’s character is difficult enough as it is! But I like to think of him as a work in progress, a developing story, and someone who, above all, knows Luce better than anyone else (including herself), and has her best interest at heart.
What can fans expect to see in Torment?
I’m having so much fun writing Torment that it’s hard for me not to spill everything right now so I can say, “Aren’t you excited? Won’t this be great?” But my publisher would probably have my head. So in lieu of that, I’ll reveal just three things:
-As Luce learns more about her past, she comes into a host of powers she
never knew she had—and they might involve the shadows.
-After the second book comes out, a prequel (which will span thousands of
years!) will follow before the final book in the series.
-Even though, of course, Daniel is Luce’s one-and-only, a new character
is introduced in Torment that offers him some stiff competition.
Someone came up to me after a reading and asked whether I thought a love as powerful as Luce and Daniel’s was possible in the real world. She was thirteen years old and made it clear that she wasn’t interested in love for herself just yet but really wanted to know (for future reference) that I believed in it off the page. It was so much fun to talk to her, to feel how much she’d been affected by the story–and reassure her that I do believe in real life love as much as I believe in Luce and Daniel’s love!
But also, even though Fallen is a love story at its core, I’m also very interested in the theological questions the series will raise. I really enjoy getting emails from people with various religious backgrounds who want to talk about their experience reading Fallen.
I want to always be learning something as I continue to write. The next thing I’m working on is the prequel to Fallen, which spans thousands of years of Luce and Daniel’s story, so I’m eager and nervous to do the historical research that will allow me to go back in time with these characters. I hope to always strike a balance between giving readers the good stuff that they want (the guilty pleasure of wings and gorgeousness and stolen kisses) while pushing myself to learn and grow from the subjects I write about.
It’s also very important to me to keep up with readers and fans who reach out to me. I love the interaction with fellow book lovers and I want to always be able to respond to them and express my appreciation for their support. Writing this series is such an enormous part of my life right now, and I know that excited readers are the main reason I’m able to continue writing the rest of the books in the series. I’m so grateful.
I have twenty years of formal ballet training. I don’t take classes anymore but I still love to dance, any kind of dance, any chance I get.