Interview with Pamela Todd

Q & A

Have a question you’d like answered? Ask away. I’ll post popular questions with my responses.

1. What do you think are the biggest issues that teens need to be thinking about today?

The environment, hands down. There is so much that will be lost if we don’t get busy and get serious about the choices we’re making. The world we’ve been given is an astonishing and beautiful place, but the future isn’t guaranteed. When I was younger and heard about all the species going extinct, I assumed that we were working on the problem, and we would change things before it was too late. But the rate of extinction is increasing. Now I know that “we” has to include “me”.

2. What advice would you give a teen who is very much interested in becoming an author?

Keep writing no matter what and sooner or later you’ll succeed. Find a way to make your living doing something you enjoy, so you can write about things that really matter to you, and stay focused on finding a way to get your message out there. Everyone can find time to write, even if it’s only a paragraph here and there. Over time, those paragraphs add up to a book. So get writing. Your words really can change the world.

3. Does your family have any influence on what you write in your books?

My family is a great inspiration for me – my children, my husband, and my extended family as well. I steal things they say, the funny ways they have of expressing themselves, and blend them into my characters. I learn from them how the world looks through other eyes. They’re also extremely encouraging, which means a great deal to me. Writers need all the courage they can get.

4. What do you do when you are faced with writer’s block? What helps you get over it?

Write something really bad. I’ve found that most ideas look pretty unpromising when they’re still in my head. But once I get them down on paper, they begin to grow, almost as though they knew they were destined to turn into something better. The editor in me comes out and starts asking questions: What if it were like this? And my dreaming mind starts serving up the answers. My biggest enemies are avoidance and procrastination. If I make myself get started, the rest takes care of itself.

5. How did you survive being a teen?

I had a lot of angst about my life as a teen. Books made a big difference to me then. I found people in them who had gotten through the same things I was struggling with, and had made good lives for themselves. I guess that’s why I wanted to write books – to give some of that hope to others.

6. Have you ever written a book with a really serious message, such as teen suicide?

I am currently writing a book, called Escaping Gravity, about a girl whose mother is a drug mule and has died as a result. I’d actually intended it to be about a teen coming to terms with her mother’s suicide. But the book, as usual, had a mind of its own. There is nothing more poignant to me than young people who give up on life, because I know from remembering my own life as a teen that the painful things I thought would go on forever were very short-lived.