Diana, the protagonist of your series, is fashionable and musical. Did you model her after yourself at that age or after other people you know?
Diana gets her fashion sense more from my teenage daughter than from me. I was definitely a theatre kid -- I acted, directed, built sets, ran lights, and designed costumes, but my singing voice sounds like a foghorn, so when my drama club did musicals, I was usually backstage or in the audience, cheering on my friends.
I'm a musical theatre girl as well. What are your favorite musicals?
West Side Story, Rent, The Lion King, Grease, The Wizard of Oz... it's a very long list!
You invented a musical, Angel, for the purpose of the first book, Change of a Dress, and you've referenced it many times since. Do you have any experience as a songwriter or playwright, or aspirations in either field?
I've written and directed a lot of plays, and work as a coach for a high school drama club, where I teach playwriting to teenagers. I'm in awe of songwriters -- I wish I had that talent.
Diana is exceptionally close with her father, and she works after school at the family business, Cinderella Cleaners. Did you ever work for or with family members, willingly or otherwise?
My dad is a doctor, which isn't exactly the kind of family business a teenager can help out with! My first jobs were babysitting, being a summer camp counselor, and shelving books at my local library. I've never worked in a dry cleaner, but I asked a LOT of questions!
Diana's surrounded by people at home, at work, and at school. Of your many supporting characters, do you have any favorites?
That's kind of like asking a mother which is her favorite child. The only possible answer is: all of them! I have a special fondness for Nelson and the two older tailors, Loretta and Sadie. And if I was Diana's age and Will was real, I'd probably have a crush on him too.
What prompted you to give Diana the trademark of having brightly-colored mismatched laces in her sneakers? Are your own feet clad in such shoes?
My daughter likes mixing up shoelaces, and I've been delighted to see several girls show up at bookstore events with two different laces in their sneakers. To me, it's a fun way of showing that Diana is playful and not afraid to be a little different, that she has her own sense of
The series' covers are perfect -- the model is always wearing those funky shoes with an outfit that was described in the book. Did you have a say in the choice of model and/or the style of the covers, or did you simply luck out? How did the photographers find their Diana?
I have to say, I lucked out! I LOVE the cover designs, and the model is terrific. She really looks different in every outfit. She's a professional model and actress who lives in New York City, and apparently when the Scholastic Book Fair came to her school, her classmates were really excited to see their friend on a book cover.
That's sweet. The fifth book in the line, Scheme Spirit, came out in November. The sixth book, Swan Fake, will be released in February 2011. How many books are currently scheduled for the series?
Just six so far, but my fingers are crossed that I'll get to write more.
I'll keep my fingers crossed, too!
On my website, www.cinderellacleanersbooks.com, I asked readers to tell me what garments they'd like to borrow from Cinderella Cleaners, and some of their ideas are fabulous. There's a story in every piece of clothing if you think about it long enough, and keep asking "What if...?"
Was this conceived as a multi-book series, or did you originally plan for just one novel?
I started out with the story for the first book, Change of a Dress, but in the book proposal I sent to Scholastic, I also said I thought it could spin out to become a series, with Diana borrowing a different garment and going on a different adventure in every book.
I'm so glad it led to additional books! Tell us about your other works.
The first book I wrote for young readers was a sequel to Louise Fitzhugh's wonderful book Harriet the Spy. It's called Harriet the Spy, Double Agent. Cinderella Cleaners is the first original series I've written.
What are some of your favorite novels?
This is an even longer list than musicals! I loved the Narnia books when I was a kid, and my daughter and I read every page of the Harry Potter books (out loud, using different voices for every character... I told you I loved theatre!)
Of course, I also read lots of books for adults. And I love reading plays.
Any closing thoughts?
Cinderella Cleaners is really about what can happen if you use your imagination. I hope readers will be inspired not only to keep reading books, but to make up their own stories, try out for plays, learn an instrument, sing, dance, draw, design clothes, keep a journal, or anything else that lets you explore what's unique about you.
I second that, Maya.
Read my review of the Cinderella Cleaners series.
Follow the Winter Blog Blast Tour (WBBT) all week long! Here is today's schedule:
Elizabeth Hand at Chasing Ray
Maya Gold at Bildungsroman
L.K. Madigan at Writing & Ruminating
Paolo Bacigalupi at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
R.J. Anderson at HipWriterMama