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“Of all the books you’ve written, which is your favorite?”

I’m often asked this question during school visits and other author appearances, and as you can imagine, it’s pretty difficult to answer. Some authors dodge this question by saying that picking a favorite book is like picking a favorite child. I try to answer it as truthfully as possible–it depends. I love Red Polka Dot because, well, it’s my first novel, and there’s nothing like holding your book in your hands for the first time. I love My Life as a Rhombus because I get so much fan mail about it–it’s important to a lot of people and is therefore important to me. Saving Maddie is my favorite because it’s the most autobiographical.

But if I’m really being honest, my favorite book is the one I haven’t written yet.

Tim Wynne-Jones sums up this thought well. In his acceptance speech for the 2011 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Fiction for his wonderful novel, Blink and Caution, Tim says the following:

The part about being a writer I like best is the time between books. It’s when you allow yourself to imagine that the next book will really be good; the next book will be the one you were meant to write. No story is as full of promise as the one that’s in your head. You get over this heady sensation soon enough, once you actually start writing, but the time before writing is…well, it’s rather like being in love. Or I should say being in love with love. You are open to anything.

That’s why the next book is my favorite book. Long before I’m struggling with the number of f-bombs in a scene or breast references in a manuscript (way too many in my first drafts, per my critique group), it’s just me and the idea. No worries about the page count or the age range or the (lack of) sales or anything else.

It’s just me and the idea.

No strings attached. No boundaries.

I promise, it’s a wonderful place to be.