Q. Where do you live?
A. I live in Bloomington, Minnesota, and it is a very nice place. I live near nature trails and a ski area. There is always alot of wildlife around. Our house is near the Mall of America! I think Minnesota is the best place on earth!
Q. Do you have children?
A. Yes, I have a daughter and two sons… and they keep me busy!
Q. Where did you grow up?
A. I grew up in Edina, Minnesota in the 1950′s and 1960′s. It was a great time to be a kid. Not many mothers went to work and the neighborhood was filled with kids. Our yard was really fun because we had a trampoline. Everyone was always at our house jumping. On Saturdays, my friend Laurie and I would ride our bikes to the candy store (the same candy store that Arnie goes to in Arnie And The Stolen Markers) and spend all our allowance! We also rode our bikes to the pool during the summer and we would swim all day! I had a safe and fun childhood. I think that is what all children deserve.
Q. When were you born? Do you have siblings?
A. I was born on October 10, 1953 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I have an older sister named Susan and a younger brother named David. I feel sorry for my brother having two older sisters to bug him!!
Q. When did you decide to be an illustrator?
A. I decided to be an artist in kindergarten. It is the only job I have ever wanted to do.
Q. How did you get into writing?
A. I was illustrating my second picture book, called Egyptian Boats, and I was really bored doing the art. So I drew a picture of a bunny doing an Egyptian walk. My editor at the time, Susan Pearson, suggested I try to write my own stories. So, with lots of help from Susan, I started to write my first book, which wasHarriet’s Recital.
Q. Who are your influences?
A. As an illustrator I have been influenced by the old Golden Books that I grew up with, Maurice Sendak, Steven Kellogg and Barbara Cooney. As a writer, the books The Secret Garden, The Borrowers, and the wonderful Betsy-Tacy series top my list!
Q. Did you read books when you were little?
A. I read lots of books when I was little. I remember the first book I read cover to cover was a biography of Babe Ruth. When I was young I really loved baseball! I also loved the Betsy-Tacy books. They were so well written. I used to wish I could grow up in the olden days just like Betsy.
Q. What is your favorite book you have written?
A. It is hard to pick a favorite, but one of my favorite books is I Like Me!. I am also proud of It’s Going To Be Perfect!, There’s A Big Beautiful World Out There!… and my upcoming Spring 2004 book titled My Family Is Forever.
Q. What is your favorite book by someone else?
A. The Color Purple by Alice Walker, Betsy Tacy And Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace, Call Of The Wild by Jack London, and any Gary Paulsen book, especiallyThe Monument.
Q. How does your work relate to your life?
A. My work really relates to my life! The stories take place in the midwest where I live. The characters are modeled after people I know. Some stories are experiences I had. I also use the experiences my children and husband have had. Harriet’s neighborhood is where I grew up. The bully in Loudmouth George And The Sixth Grade Bully was a real kid who was mean to me when I was in elementary school. I could go on and on.
Q. What else do you do? What are your hobbies?
A. My hobbies all revolve around sports and the outdoors. I love to go hiking, bird watching, running, biking, swimming, snowshoeing and skiing. I also enjoy watching sports like soccer, figure skating and alpine ski racing.
Q. What comes first… characters, setting or the plot?
A. I guess I would say the plot, because I first think of a message I want to communicate to my readers. Then I have to figure out a plot to communicate that message. Then come the characters, and finally the right setting.
Q. Do you write on a computer?
A. No! I wish I could, but I’m trying to learn to use the computer. I do everything by hand on paper the old fashioned way.
Q. Do you have any advice for would-be authors or illustrators?
A. My advice to authors is to write alot – in fact, everyday! Write about what you know. For instance, if you live in the city, write about the city. If you live in the country, write stories that take place in the country. That is what you know best! When you create characters, know everything about them! Finally, please don’t try to rush into getting published when you are still a kid! It’s hard to get a rejection letter when you are an adult. Take time to have lots of experiences, find out what you like to write about, and go to college if you can. Last piece of advice … read alot!
For illustrators, do your art every day and find your own style. Do lots of free jobs in the beginning. Do art for community newspapers, do posters for local clubs or for fundraising activities.
Q. Do you like getting shots?
A. I don’t mind shots because I used to get allergy shots every week when I was growing up! I’m used to them!
Q. What’s your favorite food?
A. Cookies, cookies and more cookies! (But not with nuts!)
Q. What’s your favorite color?
A. I love all colors!!!
Q. If you weren’t a children’s book author and illustrator what would you do?
A. I would be a fine artist, painting and trying to sell my original art. If that didn’t work out, I would be a gym teacher in an elementary school.
Q. What freaks you out?
A. Airplanes and scary rides, like giant roller coasters! I’m also scared when my teenagers practice their driving.
Q. What’s in the furure?
A. More books for sure, and hopefully some animated TV work, as well as a play or two.
Q. What medium do you use?
A. I use colored pencils and technical pens. I draw on 100% rag paper. I buy my supplies at art supply stores.
Q. Do you have any pets?
A. I always have pets around, because I love animals! My dog, Lily, is a mutt and a loyal friend. She is always at my side!