Q: Did you always aspire to write young adult fiction, or is this something you fell into or migrated to? Do you write in any other genres?
A: I never thought specifically that I was writing young adult fiction when I started “City of Bones.” I thought of it as urban fantasy. The characters simply happened to be teenagers.
It was important to me to tell a story about characters at that crucial life stage just between adolescence and adulthood, where your choices decide what kind of person you want to be.
I think that kind of story, which is your classic coming-of-age type adventure, can really be read by anyone. I do have a middle-grade fantasy series in the works as well — middle-grade tends to center around younger characters than YA, usually between 11 and 13.
Q: In a way, you have a large responsibility: Young people who read a great book, who are captivated in their early years by the magic of fiction, are more likely to become regular readers and think creatively. How conscious are you of this effect, of the power of good writing, when you are working?
A: I think teenage readers are extremely attuned to anything that seems or feels false. They have an innate sense of when situations and characters feel real, and when they’re being pandered to or lectured at. I feel like what writers of YA really owe their audiences is truth: truth that reflects the lives teenagers live, that speaks to their actual experiences and the way the world works rather than presenting any kind of idealized falsity, which they instinctively reject.
Q: Describe your daily writing routine. Are you an early riser, or do you find time late at night?
A: I am a very late riser. I tend to do work-related tasks earlier in the day, like answering emails and questions from readers, and making phone calls, and then do my fiction writing in the late afternoon and evening. Sometimes I do meet friends out at coffee shops or bookstores to work when I need to get away from home.
Q: What book made a big impact on you when you were young? And what made you want to become a writer?
A: The books that made the biggest impact on me when I was young were “The Lord of the Rings” series. My father gave them to me when I was fairly young. I remember reading the series and being transported to a magical world, and thinking that one day I’d like to write books that transported people the same way.