My literary interests are quite eclectic. But in the end, it boils down to a good story. Concise writing that tells an engaging tale will get me every time. I have a special place in my heart for the classics and modernists because their work lives outside of today’s genre categories. The same goes for international fiction. Because of my own multi-cultural background, I find storytelling from Latin America particularly engaging. 

As for my own writing, my focus is always on the characters. I let them guide me. After all, the story belongs to them. In my fiction, especially my young adult and middle grade stories, I try to address important truths about how we see ourselves and the world, about how we fit—or don’t fit—in society.

When I teach creative writing, my focus is on clear, concise writing, story structure and theme. I try to lead students to the place where stories take shape and become art—the place where the author becomes invisible, and the story grows into the reader’s heart. I help students tap into their creative core and encourage them to find their voice and move forward with their stories. But when it’s all said and done, good writing comes down to structure, discipline, empathy and perseverance—and a hell of a lot of revision.