YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I have always loved traveling. (In fact, as a teenager, I hoped that one day I'd find a job as a Professional World Traveler - sadly, that didn't exactly come to pass, but at least writing and reading novels takes me on a lot of fun adventures!) One of the things I've always wanted to do is travel around the country, exploring new places by day and stopping to sleep in a new spot each and every night. During the Covid-19 pandemic, my family did just that - we rented an RV and set off on a road trip to get away, while also being mindful of keeping our distance from others. Because we were avoiding cities and crowded areas, our trip didn't exactly follow the Peach family's map, but we didstop in some of the same places the Peaches visit during their journey - and I really got a feel for what it's like to have a whole family squeezed into a tiny space for days on end!
When I first started writing the book that eventually turned into WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS, MAKE PEACH PIE, I knew I needed to crank up the adventure and awkwardness notch to make a really fun story. So I thought about what would make a road trip like the one I'd always wanted to take even more interesting and fun...and that's when the food truck entered the picture. I knew I wanted to write a story about a family that has fallen apart, and uses an amazing adventure to find their way back together - but it took me a lot of starts and stops to figure out WHY their family was broken, and HOW this journey would help them fix it. The first draft of the story came together really quickly, but the revision and rewriting process took a long, long time.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
I honestly love all three kids in the Peach family equally - I get a kick out of each of them for different reasons. Even though the books in this series are written in third person, each chapter within each story shifts to follow a different kid - so you get to know Lucy, Freddy, and Herb equally well. They're all really different, but each Peach is incredible and interesting for different reasons - sort of like my own three kids!
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel almost always comes first for me. The title is always the hardest part, and usually changes many times during my writing process! I think it was actually my mom who came up with the idea to play with the saying: "When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade."
YABC: Do you have a favorite writing snack?
I drink coffee all day long. Way too much coffee. And don't ever come near me with any kind of gummy candy if you don't plan to share - I have a real problem with gummi bears, Haribo peaches, Dots, gummi worms...great, now I want all of those things!
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I love EVERYTHING about this cover - most especially the colors, the whimsical style of Michelle Cunningham's illustrations and lettering, and the way that it seems to capture the spirit of the book and this adventure in such a simple way!
YABC: What’s on your TBR pile?
My TBR pile is absolutely overflowing, but a few books I'm really excited about this year are - Hena Khan's follow up to Amina's Voice (Amina's Song), Finding Junie Kim by Ellen Oh, Halfway to Harmony by Barbara O'Connor, Alone by Megan E. Freeman, The Mending Summer by Ali Standish, The House that Wasn't There by Elana K. Arnold, and - of course! - the next Vanderbeekers novel (Vanderbeekers Make a Wish) by Karina Yan Glaser.
YABC: What’s a book you’ve recently read and loved?
This past year, a few books I really enjoyed include: A Thousand Questions by Saadia Faruqi, Wink by Rob Harrell, Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson, Dress Coded by Carrie Firestone, and the latest Vanderbeeker adventure! I don't read a lot of adult books, but I loved both Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid and The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett!
YABC: What’s up next for you?
I am currently working on the revisions for the second GREAT PEACH EXPERIMENT book (I love spending time with this family, since the kids are so much like my own kids!), and I'm also working on revisions for a standalone middle grade novel I have coming out with Scholastic in 2022 - it's called Controlled Burn, and is the story of 12-year-old Maia, who is battling some huge personal demons and anxieties, but finally begins to conquer her fears while spending the summer with her grandparents after her younger sister is badly burned in a house fire.
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
There is a scene toward the end of When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Peach Pie, where Herb makes an important decision about his "pet" mice (when the Peaches first get their food truck, Herb finds three baby mice tucked under a cabinet while he's cleaning, and Dad has promised him he can keep anything he finds while he cleans). That scene chokes me up every time I read it, and it was hard to write - I don't like to make my characters sad, but sometimes you have to hurt and grieve to grow.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
Superpower? Definitely not cooking (writing the baking scenes in THE GREAT PEACH EXPERIMENT was a challenge, to be sure! I'm lucky the rest of my family are such superstars in the kitchen!). Playing with dogs and puppies? Can that be a superpower? If so, I pick that. Otherwise, napping. Or laying in bed, reading under a cozy blanket, with my two pups tucked in beside me. Those are some of the things I'm really good at!
YABC: What advice would you give to new writers?