AF: How long have you been a writer?
I’ve been a writer my whole life. I knew I always wanted to write. Always. From the very beginning when I would sit in my high chair at the dining room table where everyone was much older than me. I watched them. Studied them, really. I could hear all the subtext that no one was saying. I could see hurt feelings and subterfuge. I could hear passion and tragedy when my sisters pleaded to stay out beyond their curfews. No one else seemed to notice. I remember thinking at some point, Man, this world needs some explaining. So I began with plays, moved to journalism and have landed in children’s literature. I love writing for kids because I like telling the truth about life. Writers and young people have a lot in common, not the least of which is, we often see a world from a very different, and often over-looked, perspective.
AF: What inspired you to write this book?
Real life inspires me. That’s why I write contemporary realism. In the case of Evidence, I began by wondering what happens to a town when a boy goes missing? I wanted to peer in the windows of their lives as they search for him. What happens to the boy selling watermelons who found the missing boy’s bike? What happens to the girl who rode on the back of his bike? What happens to his parents? What happens to all the inhabitants in the town who have their eyes open in a different way because they are always on the lookout for him? There’s magic in our daily lives. We just have to take a look. I love magic in the mundane. Currently, I am interviewing a girl in prison who committed murder. I am fascinated by the notion of how one action can alter your whole life and I wonder if it’s possible for her to find redemption behind bars. Yeah, real people and real life are endlessly fascinating to me.
AF: How long have you lived in Austin?
I arrived in Austin on the Ides of March (the 15th) in 1980. My parents were divorcing, and it was a mess. I basically dropped out of graduate school and ran away from home. It was either that or die an early death from cirrhosis of the liver from late night binges trying to solve my parents’ problems. God rest their souls. Oh, and I was in love with a boy from Texas. We ran away together.
AF: Tell us about your family.
I am the mom of a Cuban-American daughter who is currently studying psychology in college. I have a couple of sisters spread around the country and the most amazing, diverse group of friends—a kind of chosen family, if you will—that a girl could ever hope for.
AF: What do you like most about Austin?
The people. The food. The creeks. And the gentle, easy sway to life. Yes, it’s gotten a bit more fast-paced, but we still linger over good food, loll by the creeks and generally enjoy the company of fine friends. And oh, who doesn’t love slipping into C-Boy’s at 7 p.m. and taking a spin on the dance floor?