What was your favorite book as a young adult?
One book really stands out: Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. I was crazy about it when I was a young adult. I suspect this is because I loved dinosaurs and you can NEVER go wrong with dinosaurs.
Who are some of your influences outside of writing, in movies, art, or music?
In movies: anything directed by George A. Romero (except I don't think I'm influenced by his work so much as weirdly inspired by it). Art: Yousuf Karsh. His portraits are incredibly direct and have such depth about them, which are the same things I strive for in writing. Music is a total influence--I love songs without pretense, songs that aren't afraid to say it (whatever 'it' happens to be--I'm a big fan of being direct!). Artists like Tegan & Sara, The Tragically Hip, Britney Spears, Ani Difranco, Duffy, Elliott Smith, Matthew Good, Lily Allen, Neko Case, Regina Spektor, Roy Orbison...
What elements of your own high school experience went into the portrayal of St. Peter's in CRACKED UP TO BE?
There are certain dynamics that go on in separate schools that are absolutely fascinating. Like Parker, I also went to Catholic school--both elementary and high school--for the traditional portion of my education, and I found the politics, personalities and social hierarchies there influenced in subtle, overt and unexpected ways by the religion surrounding them. It was important to me to try to thread that element of my own experiences into CRACKED UP TO BE.
CRACKED UP TO BE is your first published novel. What have you learned in the process of getting published?
That everyone wants the same thing--for the novel to be the best it can be. That, as the writer, you're trusted with that responsibility, and as the writer you have to trust others with that responsibility (from all stages of editing, to the cover design and so on). I think I've learned to listen and ask questions in ways I hadn't previously, which--I like to think!--has made me grow as a writer.
You're a pretty active blogger--why do you blog versus, say, write in a journal?
I'd hesitate to say I keep a blog at the expense of having a journal, as the two serve such different purposes in my mind--but basically, I blog because I love it. I love writing blog entries, reading blogs, giving comments and receiving them, the sense of community. Blogging rocks! I have a lot of fun with it.