1. On a scale of one to ten, rank your current level of insanity–where ten is belongs-in-lunatic-asylum insane–and tell us why.
10! “Insane” is how I always describe my life. LOL. Also, overwhelming and crazed. When I signed up to write five books a year I had NO IDEA (or I was in denial) that it meant actually WRITING five books a year. So basically once one book is done, I have a week off and then I have to dive face-first into the next one. It’s getting better though. I like to change it up a bit, have a break between my more “mystery” books and my fun, fast “chicklit-y” ones.
2. Have you always written as fast as you do now, or is it necessity?
I’ve always been a fast writer. Writing comes easily to me, and I was
the kid who wrote my term papers after midnight the night before they were due, and still got As. Or sometimes I would write them an HOUR before it was due, on a typewriter, even! (No computers back then-I’m dating myself!) I got slapped on the head though, when I went to college, my Logic & Rhetoric teacher told me “You’re a good writer, but you don’t put enough effort into it.” He could see I was okay with coasting along. Now I really plug. But with my deadlines, I don’t even really have a choice. I have to do it fast or the books won’t get published on time. And I’ve already missed several deadlines! Believe me, it’s not a fun thing.
3. There have been discussions about how some young adult fiction is not ‘wholesome’ enough. Things like sexual content, drug use etc. Has it made you rethink some of the things you write or were writing at the time?
Nah! Wholesome schmolesome. LOL. I like naughty, naughty books and I think all this hue and cry over the sexy nature of some YA books is just at lot of useless hand-wringing. Also a lot of “blame the
content” kind of thinking which is similar to the “Judas Priest made
my kid kill himself” sort of thing. Also, kids are INTERESTED in sex
and drugs and alcohol–that’s the reality of it. If your books reflect
some kind of Disney-sanitized version of teenhood, I doubt anyone will want to read it. Also, I was brought up by people who believed in
PARENTING. My parents believed that THEY taught their kids values, not the movies, not tv, not books. I read lots of racy books in my youth–books my parents probably wouldn’t be too thrilled to know I read, like their Sidney Sheldon and Harold Robbins novels! LOL! They always encouraged reading (both are avid readers of popular fiction still), and once you hook a reader, you’ve got them for life. I might have started out loving trashy books like VC Andrews’s Flowers in the Attic series, but I also ended up loving books like Tolstoy’s War and Peace and James Joyce’s A Portrait of the The Artist as A Young Man. I write for myself–my editors at the ones who reign me in, and I grudgingly relent. I think if you start out policing your writing, you’ll never write anything. Much more fun to go for it and then scale back later.
4. As a follow-on to that question, how old will your cute little girl
be when you finally allow her to read your books?
Um, twenty-five? 🙂 She’ll be allowed to read them when she’s interested in them…probably ten or eleven? Nine if she’s an early reader? I kind of doubt she’ll be too interested in them. Somehow you want Mom to just be Mom. You don’t really want to know about Mom’s other life outside the family, do you? It will be interesting to see. I kind of do hope she becomes interested in the Blue Bloods books because if I’m still writing them when she’s old enough, she will be able to participate in plot discussions. Sometimes that’s all my husband and I talk about over dinner! It will be cool if she can participate in the family business.
5. Fresh Off The Boat borrows more from your life than your other books. Did it make writing it easier or more difficult?
Easier, I think. I had all this material stewing in me for so long,
and it was a relief to finally get it out on paper, worked out in
chapters. It was very cathartic to write that book.
6. What do you miss most about not living in the Phillipines any more? The food?
Definitely the food!!! And my friends and family who still live there.
And being somewhere and not being hyphenated, you know? Also, being somewhere where everyone knows who you are because of who your parents are and who your grandparents were…in a way, it’s good to be in America and not have that burden–you can reinvent yourself. But it is also nice to come home “where everyone knows your name” so to speak.
And because Melissa’s the absolute coolness, she’s offering a galley copy to be given away! Read the blurb, and then come back to share why you think Ashley is/was such a popular name.