I grew up with my mother and sister in a quiet neighborhood in the Midwest and spent a lot of time alone wandering the fields and woods behind my grandparents’ house. I often spent hours up in a tree sketching birds and squirrels or reading books. I was particularly fond of illustrated fairy tales and books with animals as narrators, like Black Beauty or Call of the Wild. But music was my first love. My mother was a pianist and taught me how to play piano before I could read. I played violin too, and eventually learned how to play the harp. When I was four, my mom asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said, “an artist disk jockey!” I thought that a disk jockey was someone who rode a horse, holding a radio that played the most beautiful music in the world for everyone to hear. Apparently, I thought the job also involved drawing pictures.
When I was in kindergarten, I witnessed a life-changing event. Everyone in school was gathered in the auditorium to see a local children’s book author and illustrator. But instead of reading from a book, he placed a giant pad of paper on an easel and drew the characters as he told the story. I said to myself, “Someday, I’m going to do that too!”
The Wonderling is my very first book with Candlewick Press, and I couldn’t be happier! I first got the idea from a quick sketch I made. At first I drew Arthur, the hero of my story, as a one-eared rabbit, but he eventually turned into a fox. I especially love foxes because my dog looks like a little black fox. But most importantly, I wanted Arthur to possess a secret musical gift and to have a kind and innocent heart, like the beloved pig in the story Babe.
It has been really fun working on The Wonderling. The most surprising thing that happened was that partway through writing the book, two movie agents in Hollywood happened to see one of my illustrations of Arthur. One thing led to another and within a week, I had a movie deal. I can’t wait for the movie to come out! But in the meantime, on to Book Two of The Wonderling!
Three Things You Didn't Know About Me
I can hypnotize turkeys.
I used to work at a zoo and got to hold baby cheetahs, wolves, gorillas, chimps, and baby sun bears.
I once lived in a Sámi (Lapp) reindeer herding village, way above the Arctic Circle in Norway, and learned how to make my own boots by hand. (They look a lot like the shoes Santa’s elves wear, by the way.)