1. What character do you feel a close personal connection to?
Probably Viola. She has my temper, I think. And I drew a lot on my own upbringing and Italian-American identity to create her.
2. What is your ideal setting for writing?
On my couch with my laptop and a cup (or 6) of coffee. This book, though, didn’t like that setting. I wrote a lot of it in my bed, in the dark. There was something about being cocooned in the dark that helped me focus.
3. Did your original idea for The Last Magician change by the final draft?
Oh…yeah. Considering that at first I thought the thief would live in DC and drive motorcycles? It took me a really long time to figure out where Esta’s story was set—and even then, I hadn’t been planning on writing a time travel book. That all came later.
4. What was your inspiration?
I had a few things. I loved the show Leverage and wanted to write something as fun and smart as that show was—bad guys trying to be the good guys. I also loved Newsies and the whole world of life in the streets…though, THE LAST MAGICIAN has no signing or dancing. Maybe in the sequel? ;)
5. Any plans for the future?
I’m working on the sequel right now.
6. Any advice for aspiring writers?
Read everything. Finish something.
You have to read widely—even things that you don’t think you like or things that are hard, because they all help teach something about how writing, stories, or language works. And if you can finish something, then you always know you’re capable of finishing. That’s an amazing source of confidence in future projects, because you know you’ve done it before.