I liked to ride my bike, climb trees, read anything I could get my hands on, draw stuff, and make up elaborate stories with my best friend, Lisa, and see if we could get people to believe they were true.
What audience did you have in mind for your career as a writer - adults or children?
I've wanted to write and illustrate children's books since I was a child. Later on, I flirted with the idea of being an archaeologist (so I could travel to exotic locations and wear a lot of khaki), an anthropologist (so I could study primate behavior and, yeah, wear khaki), and in high school I took an extensive vocation exam which told me I should become a poultry farmer. So, other than briefly considering working with chimpanzees or chickens, I've always wanted to write and draw stories for an audience of children..
What was your first job when you graduated from college?
I graduated on a Friday and the following Monday I was working at Disney in the animation department doing storyboard sketches. They gave me a Mickey Mouse name tag and a time card. I had to stand in line at the beginning and end of each work day to punch in and out. There were things I didn't mind about the job – like the paycheck and the benefits – but I just couldn't handle the name tag and the time card. I quit after six weeks.I've been free-lancing ever since.
How soon after that was your first book published?
It took 10 years after that to publish my first book, and 5 years after that to publish the second. I guess you couldn't call me an overnight sensation. Or a prodigy. Bummer.
Was your first book accepted immediately? or did you experience a number of rejections?
I experienced a rather huge number of rejections. It was not a fun time in that regard. But I was illustrating a bunch of other stuff like toys, games, educational materials, and McDonald's Happy Meals boxes while I tried to break into the children's book business, so it wasn't like I didn't have anything to do.
What are the topics are some of your books?
Um, babies, birthday cake, boxer shorts, boys, roller coasters, Santa Claus. I tackle serious topics on a regular basis.
Is there anything about yourself that you’d like to share - hobbies, where you were born, special talents other than writing/illustrating, what other jobs you had before you became a writer/illustrator?
I was born in Los Angeles in 1958. I am from a Lebanese family whose roots in the LA area go back to the 1920's. Most of us are still here. I can't imagine living anywhere else. I love hiking in the hills near Pasadena with my dog Rocket, living close enough to the beach that I can go whenever I feel like it, shopping for food at ethnic markets, going to hear live music in small clubs, and maybe most of all, I love the vast array of opportunities this crazy city offers my kids.