Honestly, I’m kind of in a new phase of life right now where I don’t care about the things I used to care about when I was younger. I’m in my 50s; I have a grandchild — it’s kind of a nice place to be in a way because I don’t want to say I don’t give a damn, but I really don’t care if I get an award. If a critic likes or doesn’t like a book, it doesn’t matter. I just really like my readers, and I hope my books are good diversions for them.
DN: What matters to you has changed over time, and you’re very busy writing these days. So what’s the next mountain for you to climb? What do you see yourself going toward?
RPE: The biggest challenge right now is family. I’m in the final teenage years with my youngest kids. I feel like my first two did great, and now I have three more who are right at that key part. So I think it’s a really crucial time for me; being there for them is the most important thing for me right now. The timing is really interesting, because by the time they’re gone I’ll probably just about be done with Michael Vey. So I think there will be another turning point at that point, to see where I go.
Michael Vey is the kind of thing that’s just out there. It’s getting bigger and bigger. You see the fan groups growing, and it’s just like it’s starting to roll. It has that potential to be this massive book that could change my life a lot, so I kind of have that out there as something that could happen. I’m actually excited for the next few years to see where it goes, but I don’t know where it’s going to go.
DN: When you see Michael Vey sort of snowballing, how does that make you feel?
RPE: It’s exciting, because I like Michael Vey — I like what he talks about and what he stands for. I love the fantasy of it.
When “Christmas Box” hit 20 years (ago), I don’t want to say I took it for granted. But I had everything. I’d go to a bookstore in St. Louis, and the front windows were all decorated with my stuff. I’d go to Saks Fifth Avenue, and the store was decorated with “The Christmas Box.” It was everything, and I was nonchalantly like, “This is cool” — not realizing that that’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, that very few people will ever see that kind of saturation. I mean, it was selling at Twilight levels, actually Harry Potter levels.
I never thought that would happen again. So to see Michael Vey kind of moving in that direction, I know there are some things that I would do differently. I would just enjoy it more, because with “Christmas Box” I was always uptight. I was always so stressed. I was the new kid trying to survive. I think I would have more fun with it.
With Michael Vey, it’s like there are some things we can do that are fun, especially having kids involved. And it’s not just fun — it’s also meaningful. It’s getting kids to read. Parents are talking to their kids about some of the dilemmas they face. So it’s not just fluff — it’s something that’s worth reading. That makes me feel worthwhile.
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