The story of The Practical Orphan’s Guide began about nine years ago, when I was a freshwoman at the all-female Mills College in Oakland, California. I was taking a class called ‘Advanced Fiction for Children and Young Adults,’ and was supposed to be working on a story about a group of kids who were the result of a mad scientist’s experiment meeting up in their teens and discovering their special powers. (It was very X-Men.) Whenever I got stuck on that, which was often, I worked on what was then known as Practical Kate, a spoof of sorts on all the fantasy literature about young orphans who have magical adventures. In its very first iteration it was in the third person, but once I switched to first person PoV, the book really took off.