I was writing computer-programming books three years ago when I decided that I wanted to write the kind of books my mom, wife and kids could read, especially my kids. I found out about Uncle Orson's Boot Camp and I decided to attend to work on my craft. One of the assignments was to walk around town and get a story idea from looking at the surroundings. Almost every house I passed had kids' toys in the backyards and front lawns, but I never saw a single kid. My mind started generating ideas for where the kids could be. Then I walked by a school. Actually, I wasn't sure it was a school. It looked more like a prison. (I hope I don't offend anyone with this.) I thought, 'What if all the kids from town are actually being held captive by an evil school principal? She lets them out once a year and they get to choose their families for the summer. On the last day of school, parents stand by the sidewalk waving toys and candy...' I pictured people waving huge cakes, ice cream, donuts, etc, in an attempt to lure children into their homes. Luring kids with candy reminded me of Hansel and Gretel, and that's how Fat Town was born. The next day I read my story idea in class, Mr. Card was enthusiastic and helped me shape some of the characters. Then, I reread Hansel and Gretel before writing the story and made sure to sprinkle mine with a few details from the original. Some are pretty obvious but some aren't -- I hope people discover them as they read the story.
One of my favorite characters in the story is Fran. She's the older sister of the main character, Herb. Her whole goal in life was to be a cheerleader and to torment her younger brother. Originally I had meant for her to be there only to make Herb's life a living hell. But she surprised me at the end.
I like writing young adult fiction, because high school was one of the hardest times of my life. My family moved from Puerto Rico to Michigan when I started 9th grade. I didn't speak English, and I had never lived in weather below 70 degrees, and of course we moved in the middle of winter. It was very difficult, and when I write I gravitate towards that time in my life. Although to the best of my knowledge I don't remember my principal being a witch.