The great wish of my adolescence was to be diagnosed with scoliosis. Then I would be like Deenie. I LOVED the book "Deenie" by Judy Blume. I wanted to look like Deenie; I wanted her disease; I even wanted to live in Deenie's town, Elizabeth, New Jersey, a short hop from my dream destination, New York City. Although now that I live in Manhattan as an adult (with a fairly normal spine, I'm told), Elizabeth, New Jersey is more known to me as the place with the long lines at IKEA instead of as the hometown of Deenie. Like Deenie, my priorities eventually shifted. I never did get that scoliosis diagnosis, but from my favorite childhood authors such as Judy Blume, E.L. Konigsburg and Ellen Conford, I did get inspiration for another goal: to write. I can't remember a time when I wasn't trying to create stories. When I started seriously writing fiction, I didn't set out to write specifically for young adults, but as my writing matured, it became clear that when I got stuck writing in teen voices, it was a good place to be stuck. The author question I get asked most often now is how I am able to write from the perspective of a teenager, as if I were in that character's head. The honest answer is, I don't know. I try not to think about it too much, for fear of ruining it. But I do feel like I can readily channel my own teenage self and tap into those feelings, and that's something I try to convey through the written word. When teen readers write to me now telling me how much they relate to characters I've created -- Cyd Charisse in "Gingerbread" and "Shrimp," Annabel and Lucy in "The Steps" and "Two Steps Forward," or Wonder in "Pop Princess" -- I think, I relate, too: I wanted to be Deenie!