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Most of them just come from things that have happened to me personally. I have to admit, I'm not really a princess and I cannot see or speak to ghosts. Generally, I just take things that are happening in my life and just spin them—make them more interesting.
In a recent book, it's set in Carmel, California. I lived there as a kid. But I went back to research it. You want to make it feel realistic to the reader, so that when a reader is enjoying the story, it feels like they're there; it feels like they're experiencing it themselves. A lot of writers nowadays, just go on Google maps. I feel like you have to be there.
You know, it's not something that I expected to happen. [Some have] dyslexia; they find my books easy to read. I first heard this from a reviewer who wrote that readers connect with my books because they feel like they're reading a note from a friend. I understand that some writers might not find this flattering, but I write my books in the way that I would want to read about something going on in someone's life. I did take writing classes in college. I just tried to write a story the way I would want to hear it.
I got to move to Key West, which really has been the best thing that happened to me. … We came here on vacation. We just decided to save up our money. I love the feel and people, especially. They're so friendly, laid-back. Key West has that zany vibe. There are so many writers that live down here, [like] Judy Blume. There's a very big literary festival that happens in January. It's a great little town. I call it the Greenwich Village of Florida. You can bike everywhere; walk everywhere.
Fort Zachary [Taylor Park]. You have to pay $3. It's a great state-park beach. Also, Judy Blume and her husband opened an independent movie theater here—The Tropic Cinema. It's really fun. We watch a lot of movies there.
Well, I've been to her house for Christmas Eve dinner. She invites a lot of friends over who don't have family in town.
I read so many great books. I'd have to say The Martian. I don't know if it came out in 2015. But I found it very enjoyable and funny. The character keeps a positive attitude in the worst possible situations.