I never planned on becoming writer. As a kid, my favorite subjects in school were science and math — I dreamed of becoming a doctor or a pilot. At university I got degrees in science and business; afterwards, I had jobs in the aerospace, biopharmaceutical and financial services industries. I even taught business at college!
I finally started writing when I was twenty-eight. My books have won awards and been translated into a dozen languages. My novels include The Gypsy King trilogy and Ortega, and my picture books include the critically acclaimed Buddy and Earl series, InvisiBill, The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold and The Reptile Club.
The thing I like most about writing for kids is that the things that make me laugh seem to make them laugh, too. It’s nice to know that there are so many kindred spirits out there!
When kids read my books, what I want most is for them to laugh and enjoy the story. Laughing is good for us and having great reading experiences helps kids develop into lifelong readers. If kids also learn a little something from my books, that’s a bonus!
When it comes to writing picture book, I get my inspiration from all sorts of different places. For example, “The Day My Mom Came to Kindergarten” was inspired by a rather embarrassing personal experience (My son’s kindergarten teacher had to ask me to stop talking during story time!); “Buddy and Earl” was inspired by my family pets Buddy and Earl, a dog and a hedgehog. I got the idea for “A Dog Day for Susan” from a friend who had acquaintances who brought their dog up to the cabin for the weekend and expected my friend to cook scrambled eggs and sausages for it. After I get an idea, I sit down at my computer and start writing. If there’s magic in the idea, a picture book manuscript is born!
I recall being utterly enthralled by a Christmas picture book, the name of which I couldn’t tell you. I couldn’t have been more than three years old – the book was huge in my hands and even with my legs sticking straight out, my feet barely reached the edge of the couch cushion.
As a child, I loved the “Little House” series by Laura Ingalls Wilder because I was fascinated by the author’s description of life as a pioneer and because she did such a good job with the characters that I felt like I was part of the family living the adventure. As an adult, I fell in love with the Harry Potter series. As a reader, I found it captivating on all fronts – imaginative with a compelling story and engaging characters. As a writer, I was awed by the author’s ability to write seven self-contained novels while maintaining an overriding story arc that drove home to a conclusion that exceeded my expectations. Wow.