Ms. Dessen, the couples in your novels are perfectly made for each other. My question is who do you create first-- the male or the female character? And whoever is created first, do you base him/her to create the other one?
The female character always comes first because every one of my books begins with the narrator. It's HER voice I hear, her face that starts to take shape in my head before I even get a single word down on the page. As far as the boys, I trust the same process: that they'll just show up, and show me who they are. I definitely have added characteristics to certain boys that I know would appeal to my narrator. You need that chemistry! But they each come on their own at first.