When co-writing with someone, how challenging is it to settle on the right "voices" for your characters?
It's the sort of thing that really develops naturally. If the voice of a particular character is not at least similar in the two authors' work, that usually means the collaborators aren't viewing the character entirely the same way and that needs ironing out. But it's not as hard as you'd think.
What aspect of developing a fictional version of Boston for The Shadow Men did you enjoy the most?
There are actually three different versions of Boston. I was born and raised in Massachusetts and have lived here all of my life, except for three years I spent in New York after college. I'm also both Irish and Italian, with immigrant roots in the city, so it was interesting for me to explore the idea of what might have become of the city had Irish influence continued to grow and become the prevailing power in the city. Honestly, I wish we'd spent a lot more time exploring our three Bostons, but the plot didn't really allow for a lot of tangents.
With a series like Peter Octavian, how much do you try to grow the character in each new installment without trying too hard and unintentionally derailing the plot and action pace?
I actually think Octavian has changed dramatically over the course of five books, not least of which was the change from vampire to human mage. But those who've read all five books will understand when I say that the biggest changes in him are yet to come, as a result of a devastating twist that occurs at the end of Waking Nightmares. Later this year I'll be starting the sixth book, The Graves of Saints, and we'll see a very different Octavian.
How did you initially develop the Kara Harper character, and what is it about her that has helped foster a strong young adult readership?
I've always loved Japanese folklore, though I'm nowhere near an expert. When I started thinking about writing a novel that utilized those stories, I knew right away who Kara needed to be. A stranger in a strange land. She's a character who's full of hope, despite the death of her mother. She and her father are both looking for a new beginning, and it takes a lot of courage for Kara to start over as the only gaijin girl in an all Japanese school, in a town where there are very few westerners who aren't tourists. Kara is the reader's way into a story. The culture of Japan is going to be unfamiliar to most readers, but the reader and Kara get to experience it and adjust to it together. If she strikes a chord with readers, I think it's partly that, and partly because she's a teenager who is just trying to do her best to build a future and to make friends and to look both inward and outward to find out what she likes and what she wants from life.