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Entries in Q&A (2)


You ask, I'll answer, no big deal

Hey, school is about to start in a week, which means it’s time for SUMMER READING. Which also means I get a lot of emails from students. So, to be your one-stop, summer reading answer shop, here are answers to recent questions. And if you have more, ask here and I’ll answer as soon as I can. Also, tell your teacher "hi" for me and that I said you deserve extra credit for not falling for this.

Brittney C – How do you like living in Montana? What city do you live in exactly? I’ve always heard it’s amazing up there! I live in Southern California. I’d love to vacation there sometime.

Hey B, I live in Great Falls, which is kind of like a 70s time warp, but I love it. Plus it’s close to the places I like to be when I’m not writing, like the Rocky Mountain Front and Glacier National Park. Here’s a photo of me not writing:

Jennifer S – I am in love with this book it is so captivating and the details of Henry running from the bullies and jumped into the radio flyer had me on the edge of my seat. I was wondering, where do you get your inspiration from and how did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Hi Jen, so glad you enjoyed the book! Henry and Keiko send their love. As far as inspiration, I guess I just geek out over historical things. I love little bits of history that most people tend to forget. Plus, everyone grows up with a certain amount of family drama. HOTEL touched upon my own father/son experiences, good and bad. As far as wanting to be a writer, I finally knew when I was surrounded by other writers and felt at home––I finally fit in!

Alicia R asks a gaggle of questions – My answers are below.

1. Are you parents living or deceased?  

They’re both gone. I killed them when they took my iPhone.

2. Do you have and siblings? If so, how many and what are there names?  

I do, their names are Michael, Lydia, Marsha, and Kirk. Oh, and also my Siamese twin, Andre who is typing this with his left hand while I help type with my right. 

3. Marital Status?  

Married on 8/8/08 at 8:08 PM. (Seriously).

4. Children?  

We have a house full of teenagers, many of them girls, so basically my house is an estrogen holding tank.

5. What are your interest or hobbies?

I like hiking, peakbagging, and climbing non-dangerous mountains. Also, I enjoy making up fictitious answers to serious questions.

6. What type of degree's do you have? When and where did you receive them?  

Oddly enough, my degree is in art and design from the Seattle Art Institute. I also attended community college when I was 14-15, but later quit. So basically, I dropped out of college before I graduated from high school.

7. Something interesting about you, your life, or your family? Maybe a short story or cool trip?

One word: Tanzania.

Renee L – I would like to know how do you feel about your novel being a huge part of the education system? I really hope to hear back from you.

I love that I’ve grown up and become someone’s homework! It’s really weird, strange, and flattering. I especially love seeing the tweets, good and bad.

Juan I – What gave you the idea to write about the struggles of growing up and was this novel written for young adults who had many struggles while growing up?

HOTEL wasn’t written specifically for young adults, but I’m glad so many students are reading it (or being force to read it!) And you could say that I relate to the struggles of youth—because in many ways I’m still growing up, still trying to figure out life and my place in it. Plus, those were the years of such crazy emotions. I had a crush on a set of twins. Life gets amazingly complicated. Those are wonderful times to write about.

Lanette H - How did you know you wanted to be a writer?

It didn't happen all at once. By that I mean, I was editor of the school magazine in high school, but I still didn't think of myself as writer, I just liked hanging out with writerly people. Years would pass before I realized I was one of them. Also, later, an author friend asked me this, "What do you like more, writing, or the idea of being a writer?" It was (and still is) a very profound question. It was then that I realized that I just like the creative process of writing. If I just liked the idea of writing, I could wear black, ride a Vespa, and hang out at Starbucks all day--I could have all the affectations without doing the work. But, I just like writing.

Guillermina V – What shoe size do you wear?

Size 12, so it's really hard to find a pumps that fit. There goes my drag queen career.

Joshua J – I was wondering what your address would be to write you a formal letter and your early education information and any other interesting information you would like to give would be greatly appreciated.

No need to write. Save the stamp. Just email me or ask here. I answer all my emails (sometimes it might take a while, but I do). Also, I’m on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Also on Tumblr and Google+ but I don’t keep up with those as often.

If you’re looking for me, I’m easy to find. Ask away!


She has my eyes, my nose, and my overbite. Hopefully my driving prowess is a recessive gene

My first car was a lemon-colored ’77 Honda Civic.

(I’ll pause while you Youtube that to see just how manly a vehicle that was).

My friends dubbed it the Yellow Peril, but a better aphorism might have been, “Babe Repeller.” I’m sure there’s a team of social scientist still trying to figure out how I managed to get a girl to go to homecoming with me in that.

A week later the Peril lived up to its name as I slid off the road one rainy night and put it on its side. I remember popping a cassette into the stereo and hitting rewind right before the accident (for you young’ins, cassettes were these arcane devices on which we recorded epic mix-tapes—a requirement for any road trip). Just as the car came to rest, Journey’s, Don’t Stop Believin’ began playing—a great soundtrack as I opened the passenger door like a submarine hatch to extricate myself from the vehicle.

Over the course of my high-school career (and two cars later) I managed to amass ten (ten!) tickets for everything from speeding to expired tabs, from rolling through a stop sign, to one for my muffler being too low. I even managed to get two tickets in a single week from the only female traffic cop in Kitsap County, named Officer Balls. I write fiction but some things you just can’t make up.

My driving record was so bad that they sent me to one of those weekend classes at the DMV where you sit with vaguely sober, drunk-tank residents and watch footage of auto accidents—the kind that would make the creators of Saw V cringe.

At the time, I blamed it all on bad car karma, though it was more likely that I was just an idiotic teenage driver with a leadfoot (and a lead brain).

So it is with much joy (and trepidation) that I gave my daughter, Haley, a set of wheels this weekend as an early graduation present. She's finishing high school a year early, getting the car ahead of schedule seemed like an okay thing to do.

Look out, citizens!


Hi Jamie,

We'll be going to Seattle next weekend because of your book, is there a map of related places we can visit?



Hmmm...here's an older blog post about a Seattle/Chinatown walkabout. But a truly great place to start would be the Wing Luke Asian Museum, which now offers a Bitter and Sweet Tour. Don't forget your umbrella.