I was walking through my favorite hotel in Las Vegas — The Wynn — when I thought, “What would it be like to live here?” From there, the idea for The Secret Diamond Sisters formed! I love how the city bursts with magic and excitement. Vegas does everything as big as possible, so being there is like entering a fantasyland. My favorite part is definitely all the different hotels. Each one is a different theme, and they all have such distinct personalities. A few of my favorite hotels are mentioned in The Secret Diamond Sisters (Paris, the Venetian, and many implications to the Wynn), so hopefully readers are transported into these magical hotels while they’re reading the book!
What's the difference between Savannah, Courtney and Peyton? Which one would be your favorite Diamond Sister: Savannah, Courtney or Peyton? And why?
There are SO MANY differences between these three girls. Peyton is the oldest, the most stubborn, has taken the brunt of the difficulty of dealing with an irresponsible mother who recently spiraled into alcoholism. She hasn't gotten over a certain heartbreak, and has trouble trusting anyone anymore. Courtney is the responsible, goal-oriented sister, who oftentimes acts as the mediator between Peyton and Savannah, and has put school and work before having friends or a boyfriend. Savannah is the youngest and most naive -- she's been protected by her sisters -- and is very innocent in comparison to them, but it also leads to her being an optimist who always believes the best in everyone. When I was in high school, I related the most to Savannah, but nowadays, I'm definitely the most like Courtney, because of my focus on writing and how I put it before anything else in my life.
What was your favorite part of research for The Secret Diamond Sisters?
I got to do a lot of FUN research for this series, because of the awesome Las Vegas setting! Once I realized I was going to write this book, I walked through Vegas seeing it through the eyes of my characters, and being inspired by the different hotels for scenes in the book. My best friend came out to Vegas with me, and we went “exploring” through Vegas to find places that would inspire scenes. We walked through the shops, ate at the restaurants, partied at the clubs, and everything. It was a blast! My favorite part was walking through the Wynn Hotel, which is the hotel that inspired the Diamond.
Here’s a picture of me and my best friend Kaitlin getting Eiffel Tower drinks at the Paris Hotel (these will be familiar to those who have read the book!)
Which of the boys is your favorite - Damien, Brett, Nick, Oliver, or Jackson?
That depends on what you mean by “favorite!” If you’re asking which one I would most like to date, then definitely BRETT. He’s pretty much my dream guy on paper. Smart, goal driven, insightful, and he also plans some pretty romantic dates (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve read the book!) However, my favorite guy to write is Oliver. He gets into so much trouble—you never know what’s coming with him, which makes him a blast to write!
There's been some talk about the drinking and partying in The Secret Diamond Sisters, saying it's unrealistic for a 15-year old to engage in such activities so frequently. Do you believe this is unrealistic? If so, is it okay to suspend reality for the sake of entertainment?
It’s important to remember that The Secret Diamond Sisters takes place in a short time span—one week in July, that begins on the Fourth of July, and ends with the grand opening of the Diamond Hotel. Not only is it summer—when these teens in my book have no responsibility—but it’s one of the biggest party weeks in summer! It’s pretty much like a vacation. (And I don’t know about everyone else, but the vacations I took as a teen could get pretty crazy.) The main characters are 15, 16, and 17, and only one of them is 15, and that 15 year old is spending time with older kids. Not only do I believe that this drinking and partying is realistic, but I know it’s realistic, from personal experience and the experiences of people I know when we were those ages. The lives of these girls may be extremely different from your life, but part of the fun of reading is seeing the world through the eyes of others who have had different experiences from your own. And it’s not only “okay” to suspend reality for the sake of entertainment, but necessary! Most books—even contemporaries—are very different from the reality lived by the person reading it.
What do you hope readers take away from The Secret Diamond Sisters?
Firstly, I want readers to be entertained and have FUN while reading The Secret Diamond Sisters. This is a light read that I hope will leave readers feeling happy when they're finished. Each of the four main characters is very different, so readers will be sure to find one they relate to more than the others (and they will probably find one that is the complete opposite of them, too.) But I would love for readers to keep an open mind to the characters who act differently from the ways they would act. The main characters don't make the best decisions at all times -- they mess up, they act before thinking, they give into peer pressure, and they aren't sure of who they are yet. But this is realistic to what many teens go through (it certainly is realistic to my friends and I when we were teens). Each of the four main characters is going through an internal struggle, and trying to find their place in the world. I hope readers can put aside personal judgments and see the world from each of these four girls' eyes, and maybe even apply this to their own lives and become less judgmental of their peers -- because you never know the struggles that a person is hiding on the inside.
How is writing The Secret Diamond Sisters series different than writing your Transcend Time Saga?
The biggest difference is the point of view. The two full novels in The Transcend Time Saga, Remembrance and Timeless, are told from Lizzie’s point of view. I was in Lizzie’s head 100% of the time, telling the whole story from her voice, which was much easier. The Secret Diamond Sisters rotates point of view between four girls—Savannah, Courtney, Peyton, and Madison. Each girl is very different from one another, and has a distinct voice. I had to work a lot harder on developing the four characters so they come across as different to the reader. It took many rounds of edits to get it to where it is today!
In terms of the Diamond drama (romance, rumors, power, etc.), what can we expect in the sequel?
In Diamonds in the Rough, major secrets will be uncovered that will change everything. Romances will be brought to new levels. I don’t want to give anything away, but I hope you end up feeling completely differently about certain characters by the end of Diamonds in the Rough than you did at the end of The Secret Diamond Sisters!