When I step back and think about it, yes, I did cram a lot into this book. But that wasn't planned. I didn't decide that this was going to be my "issues" book or anything like that. The story grew as I got to know my main character. She has a very complicated life. And I liked the complexity of her situation. There wasn't an easy part to the writing but I will say that Errol, the Cupid character, was the hardest part to write. He wanted to take over the book. I had to keep reminding myself that this was Alice's story. I think I may give Errol his own book one of these days.
As I mentioned, Cupid and mythology play a role in the novel. Is mythology something that's always intrigued you? Do you have a favorite myth?I love mythology. It was my favorite class in high school. It always seeps into my novels. In Coffeehouse Angel, I re-imagined the messenger god, Hermes. In my first adult novel, Daughters of Crete, which was published overseas, I re-imagined the myth of Ariadne and Theseus. And now, in Mad Love, I'm playing with Cupid.
My favorite myth would have to be Daedalus and his winged escape from the labyrinth.
In the novel, Alice's mother is a best-selling romance author and Alice attempts to write her own romance novel. Was it ever difficult or weird to write about writing as a major plot point?
I had fun with that. You see, I know some romance writers and we often talk about how much the genre is made fun of. How people think it's easy to write romance because it's just a formula, etc. I even used to think some of those things. But the truth is, writing is hard, period. Whether you're writing sci fi, kids' novels, mysteries, romances, whatever. It's hard to take a story from beginning to end with 300 pages in between. In Mad Love, I poke fun at the false notions about romance writing, and I try to shed some light on the truth.
You write for both middle grade and teen readers. Do you have a favorite? What has been the main difference in writing for the two age groups?
They are completely different worlds. I love middle grade because those books are all about adventure. I can do anything! And I do. With the teen novels, there has to be some sort of romantic tension. That's trickier for me to write.
What are you working on now? What can readers expect from you next?Next up is Smells Like Treasure, my sequel to kids' book Smells Like Dog, in May this year. And I'm currently writing my next teen novel, out in 2012. It's a fairy tale.