First tell us something about yourself?
Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved stories. “Tell me about the olden days,” I used to say to my mom, meaning, “What was it like when you were a kid?” “Tell me again how I’d climb onto your lap when I was a baby to eat your ice cream,” I’d insist to my dad. I even liked the stories about the boogieman my big sister made to scare me. My favorite toys were dolls and my favorite games involved playing pretend, which is really just another form of storytelling. And of course I loved being read to. Where the Wild Things Are. Harry the Dirty Dog. Harold and the Purple Crayon. Once, in kindergarten, I read a book aloud to my class. “She’s just making it up,” I heard one boy say to another. He was right that I couldn’t read yet, but I hadn’t made up a single word. I simply knew the book by heart because I’d had my mother read it to me so many times. I don’t remember what book it was, but I do remember it rhymed horse with of course. That was something else I was beginning to love: how words sounded when you put them next to each other in different combinations.
Q: How and when did your journey start as a writer?
When I was in fifth grade, I discovered the books of Judy Blume. Reading them was like having a friend talk to you. She stayed my favorite author for the next few years, along with another writer of middle grade and young adult books named Norma Klein. When I was in seventh grade, I decided that what I’d most like to do with my life was write books like they did. I bought a notebook with purple pages and a flowered cover and started filling it with poems and stories. I soon learned that when you write down your thoughts and ideas, you can discover things you didn’t know you knew.
Q: When did you write your first story? Is it published or not?
I published poems before I published stories. The first one, when I was in first grade, was printed in The Sandpaper, our school magazine. It went like this:
When I get home from school
I like to eat.
Then I can have my treat.
Isn’t that neat?
Q: Tell us something more about your books?
I have three books for children. The first, Starfish Summer, is about a girl named Amy who is staying in a beach town with her great aunt for the summer. Her mom is away for work and Amy is really homesick. What’s worse, the neighbor she most wants to be friends with isn’t so sure she wants a friend who will be leaving when the season is over. Next, I wrote an alphabet book for younger kids called Tangerines and Tea: My Grandparents and Me. It’s made up of couplets, which means each page has two lines that rhyme with each other. My new children’s novel, August Or Forever, is the story of ten-year-old Molly who, when she finds out that her much older half-sister Alison is finally coming to visit over the summer, figures out a plan she’s sure will get her sister to stay.
Q: Why do you choose kids as your readers? is there any specific reason?
Some of my favorite people are kids and some of my favorite books are children’s books. I write books for adults too, but it’s a special gift to be able to share my writing with young readers. I love you guys for your questioning minds, your openness, and your brilliant imaginations.
Q: How did these stories and characters come to your mind?
I think they come to me because I’m open to them. I’m listening for them. Molly from August Or Forever came to me because I know something about what it feels like to miss a sister and I realized there are probably a lot of kids out there who are missing someone. So I listened for Molly and she began to tell me what it felt like to be her. I knew her voice and I understood her longing when I began writing. The ins and outs of her story came more slowly.
Q: Do you want to leave any message for your readers?
Books can be wonderful company. So can a notebook. If you have one or the other with you, you’ll never be lonely.