I see all sorts of magic in the natural world. A favorite book of mine when I was young was David Attenborough's Life on Earth: A Natural History. I read this book over and over, poring over the beautiful photos of jellyfish and otters and leopards and bees, reading about their habits and behavior. I love the fact that elephants remember and love, that they mourn the passing of one of their own, that trees trade information through their root systems, that bees actually dance when they find a food source, with the movement and angle of that dance communicating the location of that food to sister bees. That all of this is scientifically provable just makes it all the more magical to me.
I like bees so much, and believe that their role as pollinators of plants in our food supply is so extremely vital, I have a tattoo of a bee on my arm. (Yes, it hurt).
I'm an unabashed feminist, with my feminism equal parts Jane Austen and Mad Max: Fury Road.
I've written books for adults, teens, and children but I have to admit that writing for teens and kids is really freeing creatively. They have no expectations of genre, they're not jaded or stuck in any way. If you tell them you're working on a magical-sci-fi-mystery-steampunk-romantic thriller starring a talking fox, their only demand is that it be good.
I try to read the way I read when I was young, that is, devouring everything I can get my hands on: classics, fairy tales, literary fiction, thrillers, plays, graphic novels, non-fiction, poetry, picture books. I can be moved my any genre or category, and find examples of masterful craft everywhere.
A friend was trying to sort me into my Hogwarts House and nothing seemed to fit-not logical enough for Ravenclaw, not reckless enough for Gryffindor, not sneaky enough for Slytherin and too lazy for Hufflepuff. And then she decided that I was essentially a Ravenclaw with an artistic soul, which made me a…Beauxbatons. I figure they'd have a lot of brie there so it works for me.
I have two big floofy spoiled cats that I adore to an absurd degree. And even though they are indoor cats that would likely be carried off by hungry raptors if I let them outside, having them is like keeping a little bit of the wild with me always.
I live in Chicago, but I'm from New Jersey, on the east coast of the United States, and grew up going to the "shore" for vacation. One of my very favorite things to do is even now to go to the beach at night, listen to the roll and roar of the ocean. Humbling and energizing at the same time.
With my love for the natural world, I'm saddened and disheartened at our general disregard for the well-being of the planet, and all the creatures that reside here (including other humans). Considering the furious rate of destruction, and the fact that we don't have the means to leave nor anywhere else to go, it's vital that we start being better stewards.
Recent events in the U.S. and around the world have made me more thoughtful and committed to the people I write for, especially my younger readers. They are the future. I don't think one person can change the world, but a bunch of people working together can.