Hello! Welcome to my Frequently Asked Questions page! I have found that many people have questions to ask when they are doing HOMEWORK. Maybe this is you?
Sadly, I cannot answer individual requests for homework help. There are two reasons for this:
- Homework questions are hard, and many. If I answered them all I wouldn’t get anything else done, including writing books. And writing books is my job. It takes up a lot of time. And if I didn’t write the books, no one would have any reason to ask me any questions. This turns into one of those chicken and egg situations. Except the answer in this case is CHICKEN, because I think we all equate chickens with books. Right?
- Questions about things like symbols, themes, meaning . . . these are all for you to determine! I can’t answer those no matter what!
But do not think I do not want to help! Below, I have answered some common questions. Hopefully these will be of some assistance!
If you are not doing homework… you are also welcome to enjoy the FAQ!
Where were you born? In a snowstorm, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Why Philadelphia? My mom was there. I tended to go where she went back in those days.
What’s your birthday? The 16th of February.
Where do you live? New York City.
What do your parents do? Are they writers? My mother is a nurse. My father is a retired engineer. They are most assuredly not writers.
Do you have any siblings? Sadly, no.
Who is Zelda? Zelda is my dog.
Who is Oscar? An English person who lives in my house. He is not, as many people think, a cat.
Where did you go to school? For high school, I attended a private, Catholic prep school for girls. For undergrad, I went to the University of Delaware, and (briefly) the University of Bristol in the UK. For graduate school, I went to Columbia University.
What did you major in at school? Writing (classical rhetoric, technical writing, and nonfiction) and theatrical dramaturgy.
What’s dramaturgy? A dramaturg (someone who practices dramaturgy) is kind of a playwright-director-researcher-editor. Dramaturgs help put together seasons of plays, select and develop new plays, adapt books and stories for stage, choose translations, do research on historical plays . . . basically, anything that has to be done to a script . . . a dramaturg can be brought in to help do it. Mostly what I did was break up fights between directors and playwrights, put out small fires, and find missing actors and musicians.
Do you know that you have the same name as a character from Rent? Yes.
Are you her? No.
How often do you get this question? About 5-10 times a week.
On Writing and Publishing
I am an aspiring writer! What advice can you give me? Read everything you can. Write all the time. Keep writing and writing and writing . . . and don’t worry about publishing right away. Writing is a bit like playing an instrument or dancing or acting . . . you have to practice and learn for a long time before you go up in front of people.
How do you get over writer’s block? I just keep sitting down in front of the computer again. I don’t want to keep using analogies, but for me, it’s kind of like a physical activity—when you first start doing it, sometimes you get aches and pains and its hard to work for a long time—but then you build up, and you learn to deal with the aches and the pains and the slow days. You just work through them. I guess I recommend a regular schedule. Just keep going.
I have written a book! Can I send it to your agent? My agent, Daphne Unfeasible of Unfeasible Enterprises (a.k.a. Kate Schafer of kt literary) has a very thorough website. You can read her submission policy here!
I have written a book! Will you read it and tell me what you think? I wish I could. Honestly. The problem is, if I did this whenever I got a request, I would never have time to do anything else, including eat. And I get hungry.
I have written a book that is being published (not self published, but by a publisher). I would like you to blurb it! Can I send it to you? Thank you for thinking of me! Here is how this works. All blurb requests should go to my agent and should preferably come from your agent or editor. Kate manages the flow of requests. She will talk you through it.
Why did you make that distinction about self publishing? Because at this time I do not read self-published works for blurbing purposes. If the industry changes in the future I am sure my policy will change. But that’s how it stands now.
I am a teenager and I really want to publish this book/story I wrote. How can I get published right now? I seriously recommend that you wait to try to get published–and in truth, even if you don’t wait to try, your chances are not very good. I know this sounds harsh but, it is truthful and solid advice. Most books written by teenagers are nowhere near ready for publication. It takes a long time to learn how to write. John Scalzi explains this whole issue in a fantastic article you can read here. I really recommend it, because he’s right.
So, you’re saying I should give up? Definitely not. Quite the opposite. Keep writing. Write all the time. The publishing part is the least important part of this equation. That’s the part that’s a job. Publishing is a business. Writing is your craft. Every writer I know was a teenage writer who just kept going.
Where do you go on your book tours? I go where I am sent by my publisher, and where I go varies each time!
Can you come to my town? That would be awesome! Of COURSE I want to come to your town! But someone has to send me. Which means that someone at a bookstore or library has to make the request to my publisher, and my publisher has to figure it all out and schedule it. I can’t go everywhere I’m asked, sadly. But I can go to SOME of the places.
Do you do Skype visits? Sometimes I do. It depends on my work schedule. Sometimes I am just writing or just traveling, so I don’t do them then. But other times I am here and ready to stare you down via the tiny camera on my computer. Penguin works with Skype to set these up. You can email them here.
Why don’t you have a YouTube channel? I do. It’s here. I don’t make videos very often. I did substitute for John Green on vlogbrothers when he was on paternity leave on two occasions, and that almost killed me. Videos are hard and take away valuable time I could be using to eat snacks or write books. Also, I don’t think I am very good at them. Who knows? I may start making them regularly. I AM FULL OF SURPRISES, LIKE A CAN OF POP-UP SNAKES.
I would like to interview you! How do I go about this? Thank you! Email here with your information (media outlet/site/topic/timeline, etc.). I answer to the best of my ability–sometimes I’m working or away or having a “life” but I do what I can, as I can!
The Books in General
How long does it take you to write a book? Nine months to a year, generally. Sometimes much longer. But there’s one book I’ve been working on for about ten years (not consistently). It’s not done.
How many languages, besides English, are you published in? At the moment: twenty-four. I’ll forget to update this, so assume it is at least twenty-four.
Are you going to make movies out of any of your books? This one isn’t totally my call. Here is how this works: movie studios may see your book and get interested in it. If so, they get in touch and offer something called an option. An option is an agreement that, for a certain amount of money, they are the only ones who can make that book into a movie for a certain period of time. Movie studios and producers option stuff all the time, but they only make some of it. (This is why sometimes you hear a book you like has been “optioned” and then you sit around waiting for your movie and it never comes.) Sometimes, though, the stars align and they decide to make the movie! Which is nice. But often the author has very little to do with the whole process.
All of that being said…there are some things of mine in various stages of development. Should one of them materialize into a movie, I SHALL INFORM YOU.
Where do you get your ideas? Everywhere, all the time. Every moment, every day, there is something to observe!
Okay, but seriously, where do you get them? The Olive Garden.