Q. What inspires you or energizes you in another author's work?
A. So many things, but above all, when I feel that the author has nailed down authenticity, that makes my heart sing. But what the heck does that mean? For me, it’s when the character acts out of his or her own beliefs, prejudices and attitudes during the course of his or her quest. And also, it’s when the story feels completely inevitable. Those two things—a character who is reliable in his or her beliefs and an ending that is inevitable even if it’s unexpected or unsuccessful.
A book that has felt that way for me recently is Lynn Rae Perkins’ As Easy as Falling Off The Face of the Earth. Her hero, Ry, goes from one mishap to another on his journey to find his parents. The book is, at turns, drop-on-the-ground funny, frustrating, tense, all of those things . . . just like the 16-year old hero, just like any teenager. Ry’s voice is authentic; he acts out of his own beliefs and world experience. He stays “in character.” And the ending is completely inevitable. It feels like there could not be any other ending. When that happens in a book, I feel a combination of being dazzled and satisfied all at once, even if tears are streaming down my face.