This week's author answers is with Megan McCafferty.
McCafferty is the author of sloppy firsts, second helpings and charmed thirds. She is at work on the fourth book in the series.
If her name seems familiar, it's likely because of all the news stories about the Harvard University sophomore Kaavya Viswanathan who has admitted to using parts of McCafferty's book in her book.
For more on Megan McCafferty, read her website or her (retro)blog, where she posts both current thoughts and journal entries from her younger years.
1. Place you do most of your writing:
I do all of my writing in my home office. Sometimes I wish I could write in public spaces like coffee shops, just so I’m not such a hermit. But I get too distracted.
2. While you write, do you do anything else (munch on carrots or drink tea or listen to heavy metal, for example?)
I always listen to music as I write. I find that the music I choose is often influenced by the scene I’m working on. So it can be The Smiths one day, and Barry Manilow the next.
3. Why did you decide to be a writer?
I’ve been writing stories since I was in first grade. Being a writer is a huge part of my identity as a whole, I can’t imagine not writing. I would do it even if I wasn’t making a living from it.
4. What author(s) inspire you?
Judy Blume had a tremendous influence on me as a kid. In a journal entry from fifth grade I wrote about how it would be “so cool” to be her, to write books that are “sometimes funny, sometimes sad” that are “enjoyed by millions of readers around the world.” Later on, I was completely taken with J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. Holden Caulfield was the first fictional character that revealed some of the crazy thoughts that were going on inside my own head. I’m honored when fans tell me that Jessica Darling does the same for them, that she expresses feelings they can’t articulate for themselves.
5. How long did you have to work on writing before your first book was accepted for publication?
I always say that Sloppy Firsts took ten years and six months to write. I wrote many comic coming-of-age short stories in various creative writing classes over the years. This material—-with a lot of rewriting and editing--provided the basis for Sloppy Firsts. The rest of the novel took about six months.
6. What made you keep working until it was done?
I was inspired by the story itself, and feeling like it needed to be told.
7. The recent brouhaha with Kaavya Viswanathan and her book also propelled your name and books in the news too... how has this whole incident impacted you as a writer?
It hasn’t affected me as a writer. I was writing long before this occurred, and will continue writing long after.
8. How did you feel when you first saw your name on the cover of a book?
It’s funny. As I wrote Sloppy Firsts, I didn’t give much thought about it going on sale. I just focused on the story. But when I saw my name on the cover for the first time, it hit me: Oh my! People are actually going to read this!
9. If you had to actually live the life of one of the characters in your book(s) who would you want to be and why?
This may sound corny, but I’m happier now than I’ve ever been. My life certainly isn’t perfect, but I love my family, my friends, my work. I wouldn’t want to trade with anyone else.