I grew up in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, a small town overlooked by a big seahorse sculpture. I lived near a frog-filled brook and was a bike ride away from the beach. My parents weren’t artists or writers, but they created things all the time: my mom loved to bake and my dad did woodworking, once making me my own toolbox (pink, with my name on it). They encouraged me to read and write, and draw and paint, and we visited the library a lot. The first book I checked out was Gobble, Growl, Grunt by Peter Spier—forty-eight pages of nothing but animal sounds.
I continued to enjoy reading and writing throughout my school years. As a teenager, I worked in our town library, wrangling dust jackets onto picture books and, I admit, reading them all the while. I went on to become an English major at Simmons College and, for twenty years, I’ve worked as a freelance writer. I also hold an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts.
An avid runner and animal lover, I live in Boston, where you never know what you might see. The other day, I looked down an alley and saw a man juggling.
I recently noticed that many of my stories, whether fiction or nonfiction, are about characters who move from something small to something big. They broaden their view of the world, open up to new friends, or trade a quiet life for major adventure. You can see this in Jubilee! One Man’s Big, Bold, and Very, Very Loud Celebration of Peace, in which Irish-American bandleader Patrick S. Gilmore takes a seed of an idea and turns it into the largest band concert the world had ever known. When I consider how I moved from a small town to a big city, and then discovered a passion for travel, I recognize that this is my story too.
I get my ideas from walks around my neighborhood as well as trips to faraway places. I especially love true stories with quirky details—like the huge bass drum traveling by train in Jubilee! I keep “idea books” filled with scraps of stories or titles or names for characters. And I do all my best writing on my bed.
Three Things You Might Not Know About Me:
1. I want a miniature donkey.
2. Moldy cheeses frighten me.
3. I am very good at bobbing for apples.