One of the biggest challenges of writing for middle-grade or even young-adult readers is that I don’t want to have too much violence in it – which really limits what you can do. It’s important that they’re not just bloodbaths or glorifying violence. I always try to show that a person who dies leaves a hole. There’s grief in my books.
What would you have if you didn’t have a murder in a mystery? You’d have something for the lower-level readers. When you get up into the upper levels, there’s nothing that will engage you or compel you or get your emotions churning like a murder. It’s the ultimate stakes.
I’m really connected to people, and my relationships with people are paramount, so I write about relationships, particularly strong female ones. In my family, there were six girls born in five years. We were best friends. And my parents raised all of us as first-class citizens.