I’m originally from the suburbs just south of Richmond, VA. Mom was a nurse. Dad worked in the tobacco industry. Growing up I always knew I wanted to do something artistic but it wasn’t until I started writing poetry and short stories in Junior High that something really stuck. Towards the end of Junior High I attended the University of VA’s Young Writers Workshop, which is basically writers’ camp, for a couple summers. If you’re a teen into writing definitely check it out.
I wrote throughout High School but was also pretty wrapped up in the process of becoming a big ol’ theater nerd. I wrote stuff and directed plays and performed in shows like Indians, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Taming of the Shrew, The Man of La Mancha and various others.
After HS I went to study acting at East Carolina University then moved to New York right after that to ply my new trade. A few years later writing reared it’s head again and I left NY and headed out to UC San Diego where I got an MFA in playwriting.
A year or so after grad school I started reading books from writers like M.T. Anderson, KL Going, and David Almond and was blown away by the quality of writing that was going on for teen audiences. I was hooked. The first book I wrote was an adaptation of my play The Real Names of Rock Stars. It was about a teenage girl who runs away from home to become a rockstar under the tutelage of a 6 foot tall drag queen named Veronica Tresbien. It was, um, a learning experience. Basically what it taught me is that I really really loved writing books for teens but shouldn’t necessarily be writing books about teenage girls who become rockstars while under the tutelage of statuesque drag performers. Luckily that’s a lesson you only need to learn once. I stuck that book in the drawer (where it shall remain until the end of time) and six months later I had the first draft of what eventually became The Eleventh Plague.
Now I’m back in New York with my wife (Super rad sewing blogger Gertie) and I’m working on my next books!
Bonus Random Facts:
- I know how to escape from a strait jacket while standing or while suspended from the ceiling by my ankles. I can also eat fire but I never managed swallowing a sword.
- I’ve driven cross country twice.
- I’m torn as to whether the coolest living human is A) Tom Waits or B) Prince
- I’m incredibly superstitious
- I don’t believe in ghosts but I’ve had one experience that’s hard to account for otherwise.
- I’ve known three of my current best friends since I was 15.