As a child, my favorite thing to do was be out in nature and imagine things. I'd look at the lush green leaves and just know there were magical creatures living there, with stories to tell.
What books influenced you most when you were growing up?
The book that most influenced me was THE LITTLE MERMAID. I always related to the way she had to give up her voice in order to be accepted. Perhaps that's why I wrote STOLEN VOICES. I also loved A WRINKLE IN TIME and THE HOBBIT.
When you went to college, were you already pursuing a writing career?
When I went to college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. That's probably why I tried so many things including nursing, teaching, being a restaurant pianist and even tree planting. I always wrote journals, letters, and stories but it just didn't occur to me that a person could make a living that way.
Was your first book accepted immediately? or did you experience a number of rejections?
It took ten years and piles of rejections to sell my first book, although I came close many times in the process. It was so hard to deal with all that rejection, that I kept announcing to my family that I was going to quit trying to be a writer -- forever! They'd give each other these looks, and I'd know they didn't believe me at all. But I would quit for a while, and then another one of those little ideas would start teasing me at the back of my mind, until it grew and grew into a veritable Banyan Tree that insisted on putting its roots down on paper...
What are the topics are some of your books?
Some of my books are humorous or heartwarming picture books. Others are middle-grade and young adult fantasies. I write in whatever form -- young child, older child, fiction, non-fiction, that seems best for whatever story I'm trying to tell.
What kinds of things inspire you to write?
I'm inspired by life, by the desire to understand myself and others and what this adventure is all about more deeply through the structure of story. In a story, a little snippet of life can be so deeply explored. PRINCESS JUSTINA ALBERTINA was loosely based on situations with my children, Jessica and Michelle. Of course, they weren't horrible brats like Justina Albertina, but they were rather relentless in their pursuit of more and more pets. At one time we had a dog, cat, horse, bird, hamster, guinea pig, chickens, and 4 bunnies. Although they took great care of their menagerie, I was going a little bit nuts, and wrote PJA as a joke to get back at them!
What really triggers your imagination?
Often my imagination is triggered in dreams, meditation, or out walking in nature. I'll have a flash or an image or a sentence or even a haunting character pop into my mind.
Have any of your books earned special recognition?
STOLEN VOICES was short-listed as an Amelia Bloomer Book by ALA and also selected by the International Youth Library in Germany as one of the best books for children and featured in their White Ravens magazine. PRINCESS JUSTINA ALBERTINA was translated into Korean.