In a distant future, Olive Mensing is raised in the solitude of the forest by her parents, away from Society. For a time she is happy and content, trusting in everything her parents tell her, and thinking she has the rest of her life ahead of her. But not long after her father’s mysterious death, Olive and her mother are torn from their home and thrown into the very place Olive was raised to fear. There she will discover the brutal truths her parents had tried to keep from her - a Society divided by two classes (Shymers and Futures) based on how many days people have to live, and a government that locks people away for rebellious behaviors.
Although everything seems backwards and hopeless in this new world, Olive makes a few new friends and develops her first crush on a handsome boy. But even then, things aren’t as easy as they should be. She finds herself caught up in a whirlwind of hatred, sadness and lies that spins out of control, forcing her to choose between what her heart wants and what she knows is right.
If you could exchange lives with any of your characters for a day which character would you choose and why?
NONE! All three of my books have sad stories and my heroines are each running from something scary. However, I would love to be the objection of affection of any of the guys in my books - especially Finn in The Day Zombies Ruined My Perfectly Boring Life. He’s sweet in a goofy kind of way, and the least complicated of my male leads. Yet I wouldn’t really want to be running from zombies like Emma has to, so I guess I will stick with my original answer.
Tell us about your next release.
Recently I started on my first middle school-aged book for my 10-year-old son. It’s a boys’ adventure in which a group of friends win backstage passes to see their favorite band, only to discover the band members aren’t what they seem. I’m a ginormous fan of Goonies and Super 8, so this has been a tremendous amount of fun. The sequel to my second novel The Day Zombies Ruined My Perfectly Boring Life is also in the works. I have so many ideas coming to me at any given time that it’s hard to choose just one to work on.
What are your favorite TV shows?
These days I’m into some pretty twisted shows like Walking Dead, Dexter, Vampire Diaries, Homeland and American Horror Story. I also get into Glee, Nurse Jackie and Saturday Night Live, maybe subconsciously to keep my humor bone in check.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I seriously have forgotten how to do this. Even when I have “time off” I’m busy doing something. If I relax and try to read a book, I fall asleep. These days I can only read when I’m driving the tractor (they have auto-steer now!) or on the elliptical machine. I go to a lot of rock concerts, but that isn’t really relaxing, is it? Our yearly tropical vacations in February are probably the only time I truly relax (even then I fall asleep on the beach). I blame this digital world we’re living it - it has done nothing to curb my ADD.
Are the names of the characters in your novels important? How and why?
Quite often I will use the names of people who mean something special to me. Shymers is dedicated to my older sister and I used her first and middle name mixed together for the name of a character who performs a medical procedure (my sister’s a doctor). The name “Olive” in Shymers is meant to be a play on the idea of her character being an “olive branch” in the story. Sometimes I like to use names for an inside joke, like the hairless guard named “Joshua” - we have a cousin and a good friend both with that name who are hairless and quite comical. I know neither of them will probably read the book, but I hope their wives do and catch on to the friendly jab. The characters never have the same personality as their namesakes, though.
Tell us about your current release.
Shymers came to me after a conversation with a friend about life. She asked, “Wouldn’t you like to know how long you have to live?” The question stuck with me and in the end I decided that no, I would most certainly not want to know. At the time I was also dealing with a close family member being diagnosed with cancer, and I got on this “live like it’s your last day” kick. I even got a tattoo on my arm reminding me to “hold on tight” to my dreams and the people I love. Readers will probably be surprised by the world I have created in Shymers where everyone is told exactly when they will die. It’s not all fun and games and no one is allowed to live freely.
Do you have critique partners or beta readers?
I have always hired editors and used friends as beta readers, but I recently started also using writer friends on Twitter as critique partners. I can’t imagine there is any other profession in which your competitors are so friendly and excited to help each other. I have felt a real connection with some of the authors, and hope to get the chance to one day meet them in real life!
Who should play you in a film of your life?
Emma Stone. We look absolutely nothing alike, but I adore her and she may be able to nail my strange humor. Who am I kidding - I only picked her because then maybe that way I’d have a chance at getting to meet her in person. A girl can dream.
Author of YA fiction