Frequently Asked Questions
Where and when were you born?
December 17, 1945, in Terre Haute, Indiana
Do you have any brothers or sisters?
I am the oldest in our family with sisters Jean and Kathy and brother Tom.
What kind of work did your parents do?
My dad was a teacher. Mother was a homemaker but supplemented the family income at various times by working as a bank teller and a research assistant.
Are you married?
My husband John and I met at college and were married June 5, 1966.
Do you have any children or grandchildren?
Barney, a railroad mechanic (married to Cheryl, a nurse); Katie, an internet consultant; Lizzie, a book buyer
What kind of work do you do?
I was an elementary school teacher for nearly 40 years.
What do you do in your spare time?
Now that I have retired I can indulge my passions for gardening, traveling, and reading.
What is your favorite food?
I have certain comfort foods like chili, biscuits and gravy, and homemade pizza . Also, once-in-a-while splurge foods like coconut cream pie and maple walnut fudge.
What is your favorite animal?
I’ve always thought of myself as a dog person but am fascinated by wild cats like the tiger, snow leopard, and jaguar.
Do you have any pets?
Right now the family dog is Hogan, a Black Lab mix. There are an ever-increasing number of cats around the office and barns but they remain aloof except for Potter, who thinks he is a dog.
On Books and Writing
Who is your favorite children’s author?
There are so many. Patricia Polacco, Mem Fox, Graeme Base; Jerry Pallotta’s alphabet books; the tales of Andersen, Perrault, and the Brothers Grimm
Do you have a favorite illustrator?
There are so many. Steven Kellogg, Ted Lewin, Jerry Pinkney, Chris Soentpiet. What is important to me is that the pictures are a hand-in-glove fit with the story.
What makes a “good book”?
A good book is one that is alive, one that totally engages my interest, imagination, or emotions. A good picture book must have illustrations that deepen and enrich the meaning of the text. Style and use of color are not as important as harmony of the words and pictures to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.
What kind of grown-up books do you read?
Mysteries, some science fiction and fantasy, historical fiction, and more mysteries. I read a lot of non-fiction related to interests of the moment. Right now I am exploring the American Civil War, women‘s roles throughout history, and 2012 end-of-the-world scenarios.
When did you start writing?
I started doodling about as soon as I got my first crayon and have been scribbling and writing ever since.
Who or what inspired your writing?
I loved reading and books and always thought it would be a grand occupation to write books. My dad, a great storyteller, could always make the simplest event sound so exciting. While teaching I told a lot of my real and imagined stories and often thought I should be writing them down.
Where do you get your ideas?
Reading. Talking to people, Travels. Everyday life. Research sparked by news or current events. Wherever my curiosity takes me.
Do you keep a journal?
My “journal” is a book of daily writings, stuffed with newspaper clippings, pictures, ticket stubs, and scraps of paper with all kinds of notes to myself.
Do you use a computer?
Yes. I love my MacBook Pro, especially for working with pictures and graphics. I still like the flow of writing with a pencil on paper though. Many of my rough drafts are outlined on paper before I sit down at the computer to bring them to life.
Do you have a special place or time for writing?
I have a delightful little office in the corner of my library and seem to be most productive early in the morning. I also carry paper and pen with me everywhere and spend waiting time making lists and notes to myself.
Are you working on anything new?
I am keeping an online photo journal for 2010, selecting a picture I have taken each day, writing an anecdote about it, and posting it on our 2010 calendar. I am sharing the web site with my daughter Lizzie, a trained cinematographer, and we also reflect on each other’s work.