Frequently Asked Questions
How did you get started as a writer?
It was a long road…but I say in Amy & Roger, it's the journey that's the important part. I've been writing since I was little, and have always been a voracious reader. When I was in high school, I started writing short plays for our original works festival, but I had no interest in being a writer. I was set on becoming an actress. Like Amy in A&R, I was a total theater geek in high school. I even went to college in Los Angeles so that I would be able to audition while in school, and in no time, be discovered and become a movie star. Funny how that didn't quite work out!
I took off my junior year of college, and ended up working in the Children's Department of Vroman's Bookstore, a wonderful place. I fell in love with YA literature, and soon, started trying to write my own. My first attempt was terrible (AWFUL. It's in a drawer somewhere. It's 500 pages, and that's only the first half of it. Nobody will ever see it, and the world will be a better place for it.) But I kept on writing, and soon changed my focus from acting to writing, and added an English major.
When I graduated, I spent a year working on my writing, and then was accepted into The New School's MFA Writing for Children program. I moved back to NYC, and soon got an internship, and then a job, as an editorial assistant at Scholastic. While I was in school, and working, I continued to write. And when I sold Amy & Roger, I decided to write full-time.
So like I said, a long journey. And proof that you never know what's going to end up changing your life. I took a part-time job that utterly changed the course of mine.
I want to know what happens at the end of Since You’ve Been Gone! Are Emily and Dawn still friends? What about Emily and Collins? What happens with Emily and Frank?! TELL ME THINGS!
Okay, so the question about the relationships at the end of SYBG is probably the #1 question that I get asked. And I really tried to see if there was a way to get the info into the book of SYBG, but there just wasn’t a place where it didn’t feel forced.
That said…the answer to all these questions can be found in The Unexpected Everything. Keep your eyes peeled.
Is Frank Porter based on a real person? And if so, can I have his number?
I wish! Unfortunately, Frank is not based on any real person.
I know, I’m as disappointed as you are.
Where do you get the music that shows up in the playlists in your books?
My iTunes! I just pillage my favorite songs to figure out what might be right for the characters. Roger’s music is my sentimental side, Amy’s is my love of musical theater (though if I could retcon this, she would TOTALLY be listening to the Hamilton soundtrack), Emily’s is my obsession with country, and Frank’s is my love of indie pop.
That being said, I’m always on the lookout for new stuff! Tweet me what you’re listening to. I’ve gotten some of my best song recs from readers.
Will there be a sequel to Amy & Roger/ Second Chance Summer/ Since You’ve Been Gone?
As of now, I have no plans to write a sequel to any of my novels. I’m sorry! I feel like I left everyone in a good place, you know? But characters from past books do tend to pop up in other books, so keep an eye out!
Whoa whoa whoa what do you mean characters pop up?! WHERE?
Okay, so this is the fun thing about all my books having some connection to the fictional town of Stanwich, Connecticut – characters can show up in other books. I love doing this – it’s like getting to check in with some of my favorite people. Bands, songs, TV shows, and movies also cross over from book to book. If you read them (especially in order) you should be able to spot the cameos. But if you can’t, here they are. SPOILERS AHEAD! IF YOU WANT TO FIND THEM FOR YOURSELF, TURN BACK NOW!
Second Chance Summer – Amy & Roger pop up in the bagel shop in the first chapter.
Since You’ve Been Gone – Living Room Theater takes place at Amy’s house. The Henry Gales are the band playing at the bar in the Penelope chapter.
The Unexpected Everything – Andie walks Murphy the dog from Second Chance Summer. Andie sees Frank and Collins and the diner, and Emily and Dawn at the pizza parlor.
Did you really take a road trip like Amy & Roger's?
Longer answer, with the story of the trip:
I have always loved road trips. When I first got my license, growing up in Connecticut, I'd find myself getting the urge to go beyond the borders of my town, to see what I could find in the next town or two over, if for no other reason than it was there and I hadn't been yet. I went to college in California, and so my first cross-country road trip was the reverse of Amy and Roger's journey—a trip from Connecticut to California to get my car from coast to coast. That trip was my first taste of just how fun an extended road trip could be, and just how big and beautiful and unknown to me most of America was. Five years later, as I was moving back East, I needed to get the car across the country again. And this was the time I began thinking of how a road trip might encompass more than just a physical journey. That maybe it could tell the story of an emotional journey as well.
I wrote the first draft of Amy & Roger's Epic Detour based on these first two road trip experiences, but with the knowledge that I wanted these characters to go places that I hadn't yet been—Graceland, Kentucky, Colorado. There were a lot of holes in that first draft, since I knew I couldn't write about a place until I'd experienced it. So I turned in the first draft to my editor, flew to Los Angeles, rented a car, and started to trace the path I'd written about in the book. I told the rental company I would have the car for ten days—two weeks, max.
I was on the road for a month. (And the rental car got very expensive.) Because that's the thing about road trips—even when you think you know where you're going, the journey has a way of changing on you. I ended up taking detours, side trips, and eventually tossing out my own original itinerary. I ate lots of NuWay when I visited my grandmother in Wichita, found I liked Memphis so much I ended up staying for a while and listening to the Blues, and then I met up with an old friend in South Carolina, eating the best barbeque I've ever had. Much to my shock, I was forced to get off the road early when it started snowing in Colorado (even though it was May and it was not supposed to snow in May, in my understanding). Obviously, a lot of what made it into the final version of the book was because of what I encountered on this road trip—like NuWay, the Brown Hotel (which I discovered in Louisville), and especially the Loneliest Road in America. Just like Amy and Roger, I headed out of Yosemite going the opposite direction that most people drive, and ended up on the Loneliest Road by accident. It was terrifying while I was driving it—I was totally alone, getting spotty cell service, and had no idea how to change a tire—but after I'd found civilization again, I knew immediately that what I'd just experienced had to go in the book.
I loved taking the research road trip across the country. It was everything I'd hoped it would be—that is, a real road trip, filled with unexpected events and places, great road food and, of course, lots of music. I made mixes as I drove, trying to incorporate songs that reflected in some way where I was in the country. A lot of the songs that I listened to ended up in Roger's playlists. And the pictures in the book are pictures I took while on my trip. There's also extra road-trip bonus content in the US paperback version of the book.
Are all the places Amy and Roger travel to on their road trip real?
Yes…for the most part. There are some exceptions. You won’t find Raven Rock on a map, but I based it closely on Eagle Rock, the town where Occidental College, my alma mater, is located. Same thing with Stanwich, Connecticut…but you’ll find a strong resemblance between that and my hometown in CT.
The only other place I invented is Hummingbird Valley, Kentucky. But all the rest of the places (and burger joints!) are real and there for the visiting.
I wrote you an email! Why haven’t you written me back?!
I read and appreciate every email and letter I receive. But due to the volume I get, I can’t promise that I’ll write back any time soon. The best way to get in touch with me – and to get a speedy response – is Twitter.
The Unexpected Everything
Since You've Been Gone
Second Chance Summer
Junior Library Guild Selection
Amy & Roger's Epic Detour
An ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Readers
News & Appearances
The Unexpected Everything Tour
Come see me on tour with fab authors Siobhan Vivian and Suzanne Young!
Barnes & Noble
67881 Edinger Ave
Huntington Beach, California
With special guest Jenny Han!!
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6050 El Cerrito Plaza
El Cerrito, California
990 102 nd Ave NE
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12000 SE 82nd Ave
7301 S. Santa Fe Drive
Hope I can see you at one of my solo tour events! There will be giveaways and prizes!!
695 E. Colorado Blvd
118 E. Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan
5115 Main Street
Downers Grove, Illinois
Joint event with Ashley Royer!
Panel: The Simon & Schuster Sisters: Morgan, Siobhan…and Jenny!
Time: 4:00pm Location: W475
Description: Three minds at work in teen fiction discuss friendship, strong female characters, summer love, and how lucky we are to read books right now.
Speakers: Morgan Matson, Siobhan Vivian, Jenny Han
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7851 L Tyson’s Corner
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12089 Rockville Pike
52 Prince Street
New York, New York
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3435 US Route 1
Princeton, New Jersey