Would you ever get a pet?
I’m usually allergic to animals, so probably not unless I had a farm and could keep the pet outdoors. My parents have a sweet little German shepherd puppy named Casey right now, and she’s adorable. But if I were going to get a pet for myself, I’d get a kitten. I’m weirdly crazy about kittens and watch waaaayyyy too many cat videos on YouTube. (Here’s a favorite.)
What are your love languages?
Definitely words of affirmation. If someone sends me a kind email, I’ll print it out and tape it up at work. If someone praises my writing, I go back and look at it repeatedly. A particularly lovely email from my editor is my desktop background.
Who is your favorite YouTuber?
I think the videos I look forward to the most are from SORTED Food, which is so ironic because I don’t cook. I just ADORE Mike, Ben, Barry, and Jamie and their dynamics! I also really, really love and appreciate all that John and Hank Green have done for the YouTube community. Miranda Sings, Kory De Soto, Wheezy Waiter, What the Buck are all favorites.
If you could design a dream job, what would it be like (it doesn’t have to actually exist)?
Sleep till 11 am. Eat lunch with my favorite kids. Read all afternoon. Take a nap. Have dinner with my best friends. Write till 2 or 3 am. Repeat. (OMGOSH, can this be real someday?)
Will your novel be your first published work, or did you “work up” to it with short stories, novellas, etc.?
Growing up, I wrote novellas. I thought they were books, but they were pretty darn short. In college, I wrote short stories. My short story “Covered Up Our Names” won the Katherine Paterson Prize in 2013. But in my opinion, short stories and novels are so totally different that, at least for me, they are (mostly) unrelated experiences and exercise different writing muscles. Do both teach me a lot about great writing? Yes, of course. But the experience of writing a novel– especially settling in for the long haul and learning how in the world to pace a story– is so different from that of writing a short story. A short story has so much less real estate, and you have to say a lot in so few words. Short stories are really intimidating to me, though every once in a while, I’ll have a burst of inspiration and write one in a frenetic fury. I’m in awe of those who have mastered the short story. I don’t think I have enough great ideas to spend them on many short stories, if that makes any sense.
Where did your faith start? How did you get to the place you are now?
I grew up in a Christian home, but it was my summer camp where I first felt God calling me to him. From 4th grade through graduation, camp was one of the biggest sources of discipleship and spiritual growth for me, along with the example of my parents and the teachings of my beloved youth pastor. College at Northwestern took things to a whole new level, being surrounded by other believers, taking in-depth courses on scripture, and attending daily chapel where I heard from speakers all around the world. But, finally, in 2008, I underwent ERP and finally experienced true freedom, and that is when I really began to grow!
What is your ultimate goal in writing?
To honor God, to make people think, to infuse fiction with truth, and to make the product beautiful.