How is writing Embassy Row different to your previous series?
Embassy Row was a series that actually came to me many, many years before I was finally able to write it. Because of that, I probably spent more time thinking about it before ever writing a word than I have with any book of my career.
This was a place where a part of my imagination had been living for a long time, so it was kind of surreal when I was finally able to (mentally) move into this great walled city on the Mediterranean.
But it was also unexpectedly stressful. I hadn't started a new series or built a new world in a long time, so while I had a very clear picture in my mind, I realized I didn't know what the city was called or what the main character's name was or how many friends she would have in her inner circle. In so many ways I was starting from scratch.
Do you miss writing the Gallagher Girls series?
The Gallagher Girls were such a huge part of my life for so long that I, of course, miss them. But I can honestly say that I feel good with where I left them. I never think of something and say "I wish I could write a GG book about that". That's not to say I don't miss the characters and the world. And there may be some kind of spinoff or prequel or sequel or something in my future--you never know. But I feel like Cammie's story is finished. I've tortured that poor girl enough, don't you think?
Was there any specific inspiration for All Fall Down?
Yes. In 2008 I had just quit my day job and was getting ready to move, so, naturally, I went to my local library to say goodbye to my librarian who had become a good friend and one of the first real supporters of my writing.
While we were talking, I asked how her son was settling in at college and if he had declared a major. She said he was thinking of a career in the Foreign Service, but she didn't know how she felt about that because that meant "my grandchildren will have to grow up in embassies all around the world."
Now, you just can't say something like that to someone like me and not expect me to run with it. From that moment on, I became obsessed with the idea of kids growing up in embassies and all of the social and political pitfalls that might come in that kind of world.
However, I'd just sold the third Gallagher Girls book and just started the first Heist Society. I had two series under contract and absolutely no mental or physical energy to start something new. So I let it sit. And simmer. And now--seven years later--the finished book is in my hands.
What made you want to write?
When I was in middle school I read SE Hinton's THE OUTSIDERS for the very first time. As soon as I realized that she had grown up near my hometown and that she had written THE OUTSIDERS when she was a teenage girl, I knew that being a writer was a path available to someone like me. From that moment on, that was the dream job.
Do you have any advice for budding authors who want to write?
A ton, actually. If you go to allycarter.com and look for the FOR WRITERS section you will see many, many posts on the subject. But the short version is that you should read as much as you can and write as much as you can. And focus on the craft long before you start worrying about the business.
How did you come up with the idea of Grace?
While the world of Embassy Row came to me years ago, it took a while to wrap my mind around our heroine. My initial thought was even that (gasp!) Embassy Row might star a boy!
I knew the book was a thriller. I knew it was about a teen who gets sucked into an international conspiracy and no one believes them. He or she was--from the very start--the person who cried wolf. So even though the reader knows that this very bad thing is afoot, we have to feel the main character's fear and frustration that no one is taking them seriously. That's when I knew it had to star a girl. Girls are never taken seriously.
As I thought more and more about the series, I actually spent an afternoon on Skype with Holly Black, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Holly is the queen of YA. She has this talent for asking you question after question until you realize all the things you didn't know you knew.
That is how Grace came to be.
How can readers find out more about your novels?
Allycarter.com has pretty much everything anyone could possibly want to know. I'm also very active on twitter (@officiallyally) and tumblr (theallycarter) and all of the usual online places. Plus, good old-fashioned google will take people to literally hundreds of interviews such as this that I've done throughout the years.
What were your favourite books growing up?
I, of course, went through a huge SE Hinton phase. And before that Nancy Drew. And my favourite book of all time is TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.
Did you ever think when you first started out that you'd be so successful?
To be honest, I still don't consider myself successful! I know it's bizarre. But I think it's human nature to constantly change where/what our goals are.
Once upon a time, I just wanted to be represented by a legitimate literary agent. Then all I wanted was a book deal. Then a bestseller. Then . . . It goes on and on. So I do have to stop and pinch myself sometimes, because this is my job now--my only job! And I am published in a lot of different countries, and I get to go on book tours and to conferences and call really amazing authors friends. I'm incredibly blessed.