Wow. I truly enjoyed Wanderlove. I don't know if my review will do it justice, especially with the great synopsis above. I found everything good in YA contemporary fiction in this novel. I found real teens with real questions about life dealing with real situations. Yes, maybe you will not decide one day to just pack up a suitcase and head to Central America, but your journey can be small steps. Just take the first step, right? :)
Finding yourself is never easy, especially as a 17 or 18 year old, ready to head off to college. In Wanderlove, Bria, after a breakup with her boyfriend, a personal loss with something with something essential to her very core and future, decides to strike out on her own, not counting the tour group she signed up with, and have an adventure - to find herself, a couple of cute guys, and just live the good life. Too bad life has a funny way of turning what you expect on its head!
*Why Wyoming? I was raised in Southern California, but the Wyoming badlands are in my blood. My mother grew up in a small Wyoming town, and we visited my grandparents there many times. I was fascinated with the small town way of life, and the starkly beautiful badlands.
*Where did you come up with the name Mandarin?
When I was 13-15, I was obsessed with unusual names. (Still am.) I also kept elaborate sketch journals documenting my life. In every volume, I created a different girl, who I drew comics about throughout the book. One of these girls was named Mandarin. Another was named Starling – a character in Wanderlove. I love paying homage to these imaginary girls from my past in the books I’m writing now.
*Did you have a Mandarin Ramey?
Not one in particular, but there were always girls throughout my teen years I longed to be like. There are still girls I long to be like! Such as Natalie Portman. She’s amazing.
*Where’s your favorite place you’ve traveled? That’s really hard. I’ll name a few: Utila, Honduras. Ko Phi Phi, Thailand. Ljubljana, Slovenia. Lake Tonle Sap, Cambodia. Budapest, Hungary. Boquete, Panama. Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, and the Belizean Cayes – both a huge part of Wanderlove. And of course, the Wyoming badlands.
*Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
First, embrace the power of setting – both on a large scale, and a scene-by-scene scale. Second, give your readers what they want, not what they expect. In other words, surprise them with a story that takes them unpredictably perfect places. Third, and most importantly, write that next book. Nothing helps beat the rejection blues like a new project you’re excited about. Don’t wait around! Keep writing, and writing, and writing.
*What’s your life philosophy?
Live simply so others can simply live. Also, Googling “baby sloth photos” helps cure every heartsickness.