Welcome to my desk, where countless hours are spent daydreaming dialogue and imagining new worlds for the YA books I write. I’ve numbered things for you so you won’t get lost. Have fun.
1. Daughter Falling Off Swing: This is my all-time, favorite picture of my youngest daughter, Izzy. She’s just fallen off a swing and is clinging onto the seat for dear life. What I love about the picture is that she’s laughing hysterically . . . in the midst of a pretty big mess up. Smiling in the midst of adversity, there’s a lesson in that somewhere.
2. Donald Duck: Once upon a time, I decided I wanted to be a writer. So, with pen, paper, and my dreams in tow, I sent a letter to one of the biggest companies in the world, Disney, and asked them if I could write for them. Totally naive of me, I know. But guess what? A few weeks later, I got the call that changed the trajectory of my writing career forever! Disney gave me my first writing job!
I’ll always be thankful to Disney for giving a young, unknown writer a shot because having that name on my writing credits really helped me move forward in the industry. So Donald and Mickey will always have a place on my desk.
3. Books: Of course, books, books, and books. Among them are: Wonder, one of my favorite middle-grade books ever. I’m Nobody, my latest YA novel and personal favorite. And Izzy’s Popstar Plan , the first novel I ever wrote.
4. Atomic Monkey: He’s sound-activated and gets angry sometimes. I don’t know why he’s here, but I’m scared to tell him to leave.
5. Idea Book: Ideas for stories come to me all the time, at the grocery store, in the car . . . and in the middle of the night. Before my wife bought me this idea book, I’d find myself racing downstairs at three in the morning searching for a scrap of paper to write some random idea down. But now all I have to do is reach for this book, jot down a sentence or two, and fall back asleep.
6. Manuscript: My latest project is a YA novel with a working title of Sketched. I’m in the editing stage right now, and you’re looking at some sample chapters. I’m reeeeeally excited about this one, but I can’t say much about it yet. More news to come!
7. Sticky Note From My Wife: I was once on a plane that raced down a New York runway but never took off (lucky for us the plane had good brakes and some leftover runway). It freaked me out and had me terrified of flying for a while. But I still flew anyway. Well, a couple of years ago, I had to fly to Munich, Germany, an-eleven hour flight from LA. My wife dropped me off at the airport, gave me a kiss, and I was off. What I didn’t know is that she had hidden pink sticky notes—everywhere—and all through the flight I kept finding them. They were in my laptop when I opened it, in my headphones case, in my backpack. There were notes with Bible verses on them telling me to trust in God and notes that said she loved me. I guess perfect love really does “cast out fear” because the notes worked, and I haven’t been scared of flying since. The one I kept says: I love you to pieces! Fear not.
8. Monster on the Wing: While my wife was trying to help me overcome my fear of flying with her notes, my kids were only making it worse. The monster’s a gift they gave me on one of my birthdays. It’s from a 1960s Twilight Zone episode called “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.” In it, this Sasquatch-like creature attempts to rip apart an airliner’s wing mid-flight. Thanks a lot guys.
9. Laptop With Hypnotist: The hypnotist guy on the computer screen wants to hypnotize you into buying Fifteen Seconds of Normal. If only it were that easy (ha ha). Unfortunately, it’s not; so I used to get up at five, head over to this laptop, and begin posting, tweeting, Facebooking, sometimes answering interview questions, and making sure the entire world knows about my latest books. Marketing is one of the hardest things about being a writer, but it’s crucial.
Later on in the day, I can focus on what really matters, which is writing. As I mentioned already, I write for the YA (teen) and middle-grade markets. The market has been getting kind of dark as of late, so I work hard at this desk trying to create words that are real, relevant, and full of light. Because what’s the use of writing if it doesn’t mean anything, right?