I confess. I didn’t always want to be a writer. When I was growing up, I never gave a thought to who wrote the books I loved so much. In my mind, books sprang up all on their own, like wild, gorgeous mushrooms after a rain. My mother and I went to the library every week. She had her stack of books on the table beside the couch, and I had mine on the table beside my bed. Seven of us lived in a very small house, but she and I both had our private worlds. Long before I knew I’d be a writer, I knew I was a reader.
Sometime in my twenties, I began wanting to make my own stories, not just read other people’s. It was a bit like loving bread so much, you want to know how it’s made—you want to put your own hands in that dough, mix your own ingredients. I began writing in the evenings after I came home from work (every good job I’ve ever had, by the way, involved working with kids). I was married and lived in the country then, and I had nobody to read my work except my husband, who has always encouraged me. I’d send something out to editors, get it back, and send something else out. Little by little, I got better, I guess, because— voila! —one day I got an acceptance letter. My story no longer belonged just to me; it was out in the world. And nothing ever made me happier or thrilled me more deeply.
Mostly I write middle-grade novels like What Happened On Fox Street and Mo Wren, Lost And Found. But I love, love, love picture books, and am so happy about Phoebe and Digger. Picture books are hard! Every word has to hit its mark, and any mistake in voice sounds an awful clang. But I love the collaborative process of working with an illustrator, knowing my words and his pictures will add up to so much more than the sum of the parts. The idea for Phoebe came from my daughters, who are all grown up now. When Zoe was little, I took her to our neighborhood Turtle Park, where a Big Girl grabbed away her beloved blue plastic car. Zoe was astonished—an only child, she’d never before had anyone be mean to her! Years later, her little sister, Phoebe, was madly devoted to a fierce, one-armed toy gorilla. He was, I think, her alter ego. How deeply we all, and especially kids, feel things, and how connected we all are—all my writing springs from there. And oh, I love to make people laugh.
Three Things You Might Not Know About Me:
1. I never drive on highways. I always take the back roads.
2. I type with two (very strong) fingers.
3. Someday I want to live where I can see and hear water—a river, a sea, it doesn’t matter—from my window. You are invited to visit.