Fast cars, deadly secrets, and sizzling chemistry that’ll transport you back to the rush of young love: Kami Garcia’s The Lovely Reckless has it all. The thrilling read centers on Frankie Devereux, the daughter of an undercover cop, and Marco Leone, the gorgeous — and dangerous — street car racer who has her heart. The romance is definitely swoon-worthy, but you’ll also become obsessed with Frankie’s new BFF, Cruz, who’s the lady racer we all wish we could be. (Seriously, why doesn’t Cruz have her own book!?) We caught up with Garcia and chatted about her heroes, her advice for creative ladies, and what she’s been reading lately. Scroll on to learn more from this brilliant writer!

Brit + Co: Describe your book in six words or less.

Kami Garcia: Fast-paced, romantic, fierce, empowered, friendship, dangerous.

B+C: Where/when do you do your best writing?

KG: I have a small couch in my office and an identical one in my bedroom. I generally write there with my sofa butler next to me (everyone needs one of these), my headphones, laptop, and as much sugar as possible. I’m not one of those writers who can sit down and write 5,000 words in a day. For me, sometimes writing is excruciating. But in the end, I fall in love with the characters and the story, so it’s worth it.

B+C: What’s your go-to cure for when you’re stuck in a creativity rut?

KG: Generally, I binge watch a new show or watch a lot of movies. I go back to my favorites — stories with a lot of heart and characters who have to dig deep and figure out who they are — like Star Wars, Rocky, The Breakfast Club, and Man on Fire. Sometimes when you’re at the movies or exercising, or doing something else that isn’t writing, your subconscious is actually working. When you return to your writing, all that subconscious work pours out onto the page. Stephen King calls this phenomenon “the boys in the basement,” and it’s “the boys in the basement” who do the work when you’re not home.

B+C: What two lady heroes do you turn to for inspiration, and why?

KG: My mom is a huge inspiration. She was a high school and college athlete and almost went to the Olympics when synchronized swimming first became an Olympic event. But she also loves art, poetry, and books. My parents split up when I was young, and I saw my dad every weekend — but for a long time, it really felt like my mom and me against the world. I also admire Michelle Obama, whose dedication to education, children, and humanitarian efforts is incredibly inspiring.

B+C: What’s your latest Instagram obsession?

KG: Pumpkin the Raccoon (@pumpkintheracoon) and Tofu the Pomeranian (@i_am_tofu) are my latest Instagram obsessions. Pumpkin was rescued as a baby and raised by the family’s two dogs, and now he thinks he’s a dog. Watching him eat watermelon at the breakfast table always cheers me up on a bad day. Tofu is a Teacup Pomeranian with a teddy bear haircut like Boo. She has an impressive wardrobe, and while I’m not sure how I feel about dressing up your pets, she always looks fantastic.

B+C: What’s next on your to-read pile?

KG: I just read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which should be required reading for everyone. Some books stay with you. The Outsiders is also one of those books. I carried a battered copy in my bag for most of high school. That book taught me things. It reflected what I was feeling and it gave me a way to make sense of the world. The Hate U Give is that kind of book. I was a teacher for 17 years, and I know there are kids carrying around a battered copy of Angie’s book right now. (Editors Note: Check out our interview with Angie Thomas!)

B+C: What advice do you have for aspiring creative ladies?

KG: Define yourself. Don’t follow any “rules” about how to write your novel, start your blog, or write your music — whatever the thing is that you’re passionate about. As women, we’re often conditioned to take the safe route and try to please people. But when it comes to creative pursuits, you have to follow your gut and your heart and forge your own path.

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(Featured photo via Vania Stoyanva)