I learned to read on a Wednesday. I was in first grade and my friends and I were working through our early reader with Mrs. Covart. I liked the orderly look of words on the page but just mouthed along with the other kids because to me, words looked like squiggles on a page. Then one day after calendar time, we opened our books and read aloud together as usual, running our fingers under the words, and the word father popped out at me. I looked at the word and it connected with a picture in my head. Then other words made the pictures keep rolling: mother, dog, brother, sister, house. I was a reader.
Soon after, my family took a road trip and my mother gave each of us kids a notebook to keep us busy in the back seat. I recorded details from each part of the trip — mostly how far we drove and what everyone ate. We sent postcards to grandparents, describing where we were and what we saw. I was a writer.
Reading and writing are still two of my favorite activities. And stories to me are still about pictures. I pore over old photographs when I’m coming up with ideas, and I keep a wall of photographs and art postcards in my office while I’m working on a story. Pictures help me imagine characters and settings.
A while back I was looking at an old family photograph of a group of people sitting on a rickety porch with chickens running around at their feet. Who was standing behind the camera, I wondered, and what prompted them to take a picture of that scene? A spunky girl named Tugs Button showed up in my imagination, ready to tell the tale of her unlucky family and what she aimed to make of her summer, and The Luck of the Buttons was launched.
Three Things You Might Not Know About Me:
1. My first favorite book was Pickle Chiffon Pie by Jolly Roger Bradfield.
2. Each of my novels got their start because I made a mistake.
3. I love real mail. I try to send a letter or postcard every day.