The Passed Note Issue 4 June 2017 - Page 11

I also joined a writing critique group around when I was finishing up the first draft of the book. There were four of us and they have read everything I’ve written, good and bad, for years. This book wouldn’t exist without their input and their sharp eyes.

SRJ: What was writing this book like?

CD: From starting the book to handing in the final draft to my agent took three years. I wrote the book while I was working full-time and in school. I set aside time to work on it, not every day, but several times a week. I think because I didn’t have time to prevaricate about it, it came much more quickly than it otherwise might have. The number of hours I spent working on it couldn’t have been many. I was in a PhD program and I was supposed to be working on conference presentations and a dissertation, but when the long years of coursework were up, I had a finished novel and absolutely no academic work to my name.

Early in the process, I had written about 60 pages of the book when I dropped my laptop at the airport and lost everything irrecoverably. I must have blocked the trauma of that memory, because I had completely forgotten until just now. This was before dropbox and google docs. The book was just gone, instantly, and I had to start over. Which isn’t always the worst-case scenario. Sometimes you have to toss the first hundred pages and start fresh, but by then you have a better  American teen girl. I often found myself giggling at her because she was so relatable. Where did her voice come from?