1. Didn’t you used to be Fiona Paul? Why the name change?

You caught me ;) Yes, I wrote Venom, Belladonna, and Starling as Fiona Paul. Those books were developed collaboratively with Paper Lantern Lit, meaning we outlined the books together, I wrote them, and PLL served as pre-editors before the manuscript went to my Penguin editor. One of the contract stipulations was that I use a pen name. I will probably be writing mostly as Paula Stokes from this point forward.

2. So what’s different about the Fiona Paul books and your own books?

Short answer: the Paula Stokes books have fewer tea parties, hotter guys, and more frequent usage of the word ‘dude.’

Slightly longer answer: The Fiona Paul books are historical, description-heavy, and written in third person. The Paula Stokes books are (so far) contemporary, faster-paced, and written in first person. Also, hotter guys ;) I like to say that the Fiona Paul books are my writing trussed up in a corset and the Paula Stokes books are my writing rocking out at 2AM in scrub pants and a Soundgarden tee shirt.

3. What made you want to write a book about a shallow popular girl? Was that you in high school?

Um, no. I flirted briefly with popularity in sixth grade, because I was friends with the most popular girl in our class, but in high school I spent my days getting all As in school and my evenings listening to music and studying for my SATs. No partying. No hot boyfriends. I wrote about Lainey for a lot of reasons, one of which is that I believe there are all sorts of people in the world, and that everyone deserves to have their story told. Plus, Lainey might be clueless, but she's not hurtful or mean, and she grows up throughout the book. I like her--I hope you do too.

4. Why are all your books different? Doesn't that make it harder to build a following?

It probably does, but here is the secret to being happy as a writer--write the book you want to read. If you happen to be like me, someone who likes scary horror books, high-stakes action stories, psychological thrillers, and swoony contemps, that means your books might all be different. And maybe you won't sell as many as your friend who only writes feel-good contemporary romances. But that's okay, right? If you write to please the market, this job starts to feel a whole lot more like work. It's like my agent says: "There is always a market for awesome."

5. What do you think are the best books ever written?

Well, since you asked, here are some of the books I love love love love: the Harry Potter books, Going Bovine, Along for the Ride, The Truth About Forever, Divergent, White Cat, Red Glove, Black Heart, This is Not a Test, The Collector, What’s Left of Me, Same Difference, Black City, Five Flavors of Dumb, Malice, Audrey Wait, A Tale of Two Centuries, Holes, Walk Two Moons, Bridge to Terabithia, and almost everything by Dean Koontz.

6. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Read. No, read way more than you currently do. Reading is the second-best way to learn how to write. Obviously, writing is the best way. It takes most people a couple of practice books to get good enough to even think about publication. If your first book doesn’t sell, you are not a failure. You are human. Human is good. Books by robots would suck. Be sure to read ON WRITING by Stephen King (yes, even if you don’t like horror and think Stephen King is hella weird) and BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott (yes, even if you've never heard of Anne Lamott). Oh, and if you’re down with colorful language, read this blog post that tells you all the secrets of getting published.

7. Will you read my manuscript and give me feedback?

Sorry, if I did that for everyone who asked I would have to cut down on the number of hours I waste on twitter never get any work done. However, some of my author friends run a critique service for writers of all skill levels. They’re selective about the manuscripts they work with, but you’re welcome to submit to them at Manuscript Critique Services.