A. The Curse of the Romanovs began as a short story of mine many years ago. An American teenage girl-- a budding scientist-- is peering into a microscope, examining a drop of blood on a glass slide. To her astonishment, she sees a miniature boy swimming in that drop of blood, screaming for help. He claims to be Alexei Romanov, the Tsar's son and the heir to the Russian throne in l9l7, who is a hemophiliac (in other words, he has a bleeding disease). Through magic, he instantly reverts back to normal size and is standing next to her, real as can be, but naturally at first she doesn't believe he's who he says he is. That was the idea that many years later became the spark for the story I tell in my book-- though in the end my novel became quite different from the original concept. But the basic idea of a time travel story involving those two characters started with that short story. My novel Betsy and the Emperor started with a movie idea of mine, based on a real conversation I read in a history book that had taken place between Napoleon Bonaparte and a teen English girl named Betsy Balcombe. He met Betsy when he was being held prisoner by the British on St. Helena, and I thought their relationship was fascinating. She kind of bossed him around! Naturally, I spent a long time doing research and planning the story before writing the book. My book has been optioned for a movie with Al Pacino attached to star as Napoleon, and it's also published in l4 languages. Black Powder grew out of my question, "Wouldn't the world be a better place if guns had never been invented?" I've also always like fast-paced and fun time travel adventures like the movie, Back to the Future. So I wanted to write my own, original story in that genre, but with an African American teen as its hero. It would blend a serious central question and high stakes with a lot of comedy. I also wanted this young man to defy some reader's stereotypes about teens living in Los Angeles. He would be a great student, a science whiz, and it would be the white teen, not the black teen, who belonged to a street gang.