I was very secretive as a kid, and very shy, so I poured all of my thoughts into notebooks, and I read all the time. I studied British Lit in college, and that led to a job as an editor in New York. I think being an editor helped me to realize that everyone writes rough drafts…it helped me to realize that I could actually turn all of my private scribbles into something that could be a book.
Can you tell us a little about your novel Tiger Lily?
It’s a bittersweet, teenage reimagining of the Peter Pan story, from the perspective of the native princess, Tiger Lily. Long before the Wendy Darling arrives, she meets Peter in the woods of Neverland and the two stumble into a big and complicated love. Then, of course, Wendy arrives. It’s a love story, and it’s pretty faithful to the themes of the original book: growing up, individuality, loss. And the scary bits are scarier: the woods are deadly, the mermaids are vicious, Smee is psychotic. Plus, it’s Tink – loyal, sassy, conflicted – who narrates.
Tiger Lily is somewhat based on Peter Pan. Is this a story you liked as a child?
I didn’t read Peter Pan until I was an adult – maybe ten years ago. I was blown away by the depth and beauty of the book…which is, of course, nothing like the Disney movie. Since then, I’ve read it several times. I love it because it is just so true.
Tiger Lily is a fearless heroine. Which other heroines have you loved reading about?
I love Katniss as much as anyone elseJ. I’ve also always loved Dicey in Cynthia Voigt’s Homecoming, and it’s hard to resist a Jane Austen heroine.
The cover of Tiger Lily is beautiful. Who designed it and did you have much say in the designing process?
Her name is Cara Petrus. Isn’t she talented?? I did get to weigh in a bit…which was nice! But really it was all Cara and the team at Harper.
Why should we read your book in one sentence?
Read it because, amidst the lush setting and the danger and the excitement, it’s a true and subtle, un-Disney-fied love story.