"A secret, huh?
"Well, let me tell you a story about my new YA novel, Vintage Veronica. It’s sort of about a secret of mine, and sort of about a secret of Veronica’s. When I first started taking notes and jotting down ideas for the book, it was 2002. Yes, that’s right – eight years before the book was published. At the time, I hadn’t published any books, although I had sold a manuscript for my first picture book, Chicken Bedtime Is Really Early. I was very excited about becoming a children’s book author. But my not-so-secret wish was to write novels, too. I really wanted to set my first YA at my favorite vintage clothing story – or rather, at a fictional store that looked a lot like it. So I worked and worked on the book. I took photos. I made sketches. I wrote chapter after chapter of the manuscript. I even set myself a deadline and met it – woo hoo! Yet the book still didn’t feel complete. Veronica’s voice was always strong, right in my ear. But I felt like she still wanted something. I just wasn’t sure what it was.
"I met with a couple of editors who were interested in the manuscript (none of these people ended up being my editor). They shared my feeling that the book needed… something. But their ideas on what it should be differed. One suggested the book should be a mystery. But I’m not really a mystery reader, much less a mystery writer, so I knew that was out. Another said there should be elements of the supernatural. But it felt forced to inject that into this story. Yet another said: romance. But there was already some romance involving side characters. Did there need to be more? Really?
"I got my answer the way I figure out a lot of things about my books: on a run. I was jogging down a street in my neighborhood when I saw a boyfriend and girlfriend on the corner, locked in a deep, epic kiss, ignoring the foot traffic around them. And in that instant, I realized: of course. Veronica. Here I was, writing a world for her to live in and not realizing that she was keeping something from me. Because by listening intently to her voice and what she was saying, I somehow ignored what she was keeping secret: what she was thinking and feeling about Len, who she calls The Nail. Which is how I realized I had to do some surgery on the book and devote some time to letting the two of them be alone together. And seeing what developed between them, and where it took them… good, bad or otherwise.
"So that’s Veronica’s secret (not to be confused with Victoria’s Secret). What’s mine? Hmmmm…. Probably that when I go clothes shopping, I always eavesdrop in the dressing rooms. I get some of my best dialog that way. I’m working on a new book right now. So if you run into me at your favorite store, be advised!"
What secrets have you got? Share them below by August 31st and you're entered to win!*
Watch the book's awesome trailer here:
*Random House is generously giving away three (!) copies of Vintage Veronica. To be eligible for this drawing, submit a comment to this post with your name and email. Mailing address must be in the continental United States to be eligible.