Q: Not That Kind of Girl is a very different sort of YA novel. It speaks to readers, especially females, about relationships in a very real way. Where did Natalie and her story come from?
A: I had been doing a school visit in New Jersey, and met a girl who was very much like Natalie—driven, beautiful, but also somewhat cold and emotionally unavailable. I asked her about her school, and she proceeded to tell me a story about a group of freshman girls who’d made some pretty risqué T-shirts to support the varsity boys lacrosse team.
On my drive home, the entire story for Not That Kind of Girl came together. It was one of those magical, inspirational moments that I’ll never forget!
Q: Natalie and her friends get a lot of conflicting messages—from parents, classmates, and the media—about how girls are supposed to act. What advice would you give to someone who’s trying to figure that out for herself?
A: I’d tell her to do exactly that—figure it out for herself. The truth is, no one can tell you what kind of girl you’re supposed to be. Only you can know that. And I’d tell also her not to be afraid of making “mistakes.” You’re going to do some “wrong” things in your life. It’s fact. You’ll kiss someone who you probably shouldn’t have. You’ll let yourself fall in love with someone who might not be good for you. All that is completely fine, so long as you are able to reflect and analyze your behavior afterward, and try to grow from what you’ve learned.
Q: How much do the characters in your books reflect your own experiences growing up? And of your three novels, each with a very different protagonist, is there any one of them that you could point to and say, “That’s Siobhan”?
A: Every single character represents some part of myself. And I steal stories and experience from my own diaries all the time! Little things and big things. As for which of my characters is the most me, I’d say Spencer (from Not That Kind of Girl).
Q: Time travel back to when you were seventeen. There yet? Okay, now name your favorite book, your favorite movie, and your favorite food.
A: Favorite book was Ethan Frome, favorite movie was Say Anything, favorite food was an Taylor ham, egg and cheese sandwich from the diner (it’s a New Jersey thing).
Q: Your first degree was in screenwriting; how did you end up writing young adult novels? As a writer, what are the differences between the two?
A: While pursuing screenwriting, I realized that the stories and the characters I created didn’t have a place on television. The Disney Channel and Nickelodeon are great networks, but their content tends to be more comedic and slapstick. I was into deeper, more emotional narratives, so I made the switch.
Q: What (or who) inspires you to keep writing now?
A: I’m inspired by real life stories. I read the newspaper every day, always on the look-out for an interesting article about teens or teenage life. That, and the writing of my peers. There are so many good books being published right now. It’s easy to be inspired!
Q. What’s the best suggestion you can think of for someone who wants to be a writer?
A: As soon as you finish one story, get started on something new. That is to say, don’t fall into the black hole of rewriting and revising the same piece over and over again. You’ve got more than one great story inside you, and they all deserve to be written.