Sarah Dessen chats with readergirlz

Sarah Dessen was our guest author over at readergirlz for the month of March, talking about her forthcoming book, Lock and Key. Here are some excerpts from her chat with the girlz last week:
I get a little crazy everytime I’m writing a book, especially at the end, when I’m so tired and burned out and just trying to finish. Mostly by then I’m just subsisting on chocolate and fear. But somehow, it works out.

I never start a book until I have what I call "the skeleton, " which is the first line, climactic scene, and last scene. They often change from what I begin with, but I like knowing where I’m going. I’ve started books without knowing that and they never work out.
I actually had a lot of people say they thought Just Listen was TOO much like Speak. I made a point of not reading Speak until JL was edited and done, but while they have the theme of sexual assualt in common, I thought they were very different. I think it’s never a bad thing to have many takes on an issue that people don’t talk about enough.

My favorite spot to write? These days, anywhere. I used to love my office, but now I tend to write in my daughter’s room, when she’s downstairs. I like to think I can write anywhere, but it’s awfully nice here in this room. There’s a Where The Wild Things Are poster on the wall!

(My routine's) changed a bit since my daughter was born. Everything has! But I still try to write about an hour to an hour and a half a day, in the afternoons. Sometimes I get to do that, sometimes I don’t. I can’t be as obsessive as I used to be, which is actually a good thing.

I really like writing YA, but I think eventually I would like to write about older narrators. A lot has happened to me since high school! I actually have a couple of books I’ve written with older narrators, but I just haven’t had a chance to show them to anyone yet.

I’m actually working on a new book right now, but it’s in the really early stages. I’m so superstitious I can’t talk about it! But I am always that way...

I love John Irving. His book A Prayer for Owen Meany is probably my favorite book. I named Owen Armstrong after Owen Meany! I also love Southern Writers like Lee Smith and Jill McCorkle. I also LOVE Jennifer Weiner and Anne Tyler. For YA, I love Laurie Halse Anderson and John Green and Cecil Castellucci and Sara Zarr and the list goes on and on...

Lock and Key is about a girl named Ruby, who has lived most of her life moving from place to place with her Mom, who is not exactly the most responsible person. As the book begins her mom has taken off, and this time she doesn’t come back. Ruby plans to live alone in their little yellow farmhouse, but she gets turned into Social Services by her landlords and sent to live with her sister, who she hasn’t seen in ten years. It’s a book about change, and family, and secrets, and how even getting what you think you want isn’t always easy. It’s out on April 22nd.
Along with writing memorable characters, Sarah is also great at creating a sense of place in her fiction. Here's a video explaining why:

This month we're hosting Kelly Bingham (Shark Girl) for National Poetry Month. Check out the issue, and stop by to chat with Kelly at the readergirlz forum.