F. A. Q.
What inspired The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender?
The novel started as a short story inspired by the song "I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You" by Colin Hay. Viviane's parts of the novel were directly taken from that short story. Over time, I started collecting characters, characters that seemed to also belong in this strange little world. Many of my characters are based on the people and places that I love. Ava herself was inspired by a photo of my younger sister. At the time the picture was taken, my sister was about 11 years old. She was running, and the large white t-shirt she was wearing billowed out behind her as if she had wings. And it was in writing that description that I came to a stop, my fingers poised over the keyboard, and I thought, "No. Not as if she had wings. She has wings."
The rest of the story emerged from there. I was inspired by the Seattle rain that fell against my window, by the French patisserie located a block from my apartment where I ate far too many macaroons and croissants and pomme tarts. I was inspired by the people in my life-Ava herself was inspired by a photograph of my younger sister in which it looked as though she had wings, Cardigan was inspired by my childhood best friend, Henry was a child I used to nanny and Trouver was a dog I used to walk. And, of course, much like Marigold Pie, I simply love dessert--especially macarons!
Be sure to check out my Inspiration boards on Pinterest!
Can you please talk about the ending ?
I don't want to say too much, but I will say that I side with those who believe Ava's story ends happily.
Are you working on anything new?
My newest novel, The Price Guide to the Occult, was published in 2018. I have a short story, "Los Destinos," in a historical fiction anthology entitled A Tyranny of Petticoats. It also features stories written by Marissa Meyer, Kekla Magoon, and Marie Lu, as well as many other amazing YA authors, so I suggest you check it out!
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
I find outlining to be really helpful, and I always start my writing projects by first exploring both my characters and my setting. Most of my stories come to me through the characters, so I have to spend a great deal of time with them before I can write their story. I usually do quite intensive character maps for even my most minor characters. Ava's story in particular came to me through her grandmother and her mother. I knew her life would be shaped by their lives, and I also knew my readers would need to understand them before they could understand her.
As a whole, my advice for any aspiring writer is to keep writing, hone your craft and to take inspiration whenever and wherever it comes!