• Q & A

    My favorite picture of my dad reading to me

    Where did you grow up?

    In West Vancouver, British Columbia. I’m a Canadian, but I live in the United States. (Portland, Oregon).

    What kind of things did you like to do as a kid?

    I tried a lot of different things. I played soccer and baseball (my Mum was late signing me up one year and I ended up being the only girl – and the most “walked” player – on my team). I was on a swim team for a little bit and I was a Brownie, then a Girl Guide. One of my favorite things was playing the clarinet in a marching band.

    What is your earliest memory of writing?

    My parents were both teachers and when we went on family camping trips (for up to 2 months at a time!), my older brother and I had to keep a daily journal of what we were doing and seeing. My journals started at age 5, when I knew my alphabet, but needed help spelling something as simple as “we”.

    I love looking through those journals now, because I can’t believe all the places and things we saw. We drove across Canada twice and visited 48 of the 50 states (we missed Alaska and Oklahoma) – just the four of us, in a van.

    Working on my journal with my brother in our old van

    What inspired you to write your first book?

    In addition to writing those camping  journals, I loved to read (and still do!). Because of both of those things, I used to daydream about seeing my own book on the shelves of a library or bookstore one day. At some point, I realized that I would never see my book anywhere if I didn’t start writing. So I got to work.

    That first book was never published, because it wasn’t very good. But the fact that I had managed to write the whole thing gave me the confidence to try another one.  And another.

    What books from your childhood have influenced you?

    I love the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. I always identified with Ramona, especially when she wore her new pajamas to school under her clothing because they were so warm and soft – then suffered from being too hot all day.  She was a normal kid who often found herself in tricky situations. When I moved to Portland, I had no idea that Beverly Cleary used to live here. It’s nice to see street names like Klickitat and think of my old friend Ramona.

    Me and my brother, waiting for bedtime stories

    Who are your favorite authors?

    From my childhood, in addition to Beverly Cleary, I would have to say Judy Blume and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

    As far as more current authors go, I really enjoyed Cynthia Lord’s book “Rules” and I laugh out loud out loud reading Jeff Kinney’s “Wimpy Kid” series.

    What one or two words of advice would you give for young authors?

    Keep at it.

    I always wanted to be an author and it didn’t happen overnight for me. In fact, before my first book for adults was published, I spent 5 years writing 3 novels and received a total of 137 rejections. That’s enough to wallpaper my home office! (But I painted it instead).