I’m a certifiable nerd. It seems I can never get enough of maps, dictionaries, birds, or moss-covered rocks. At various times in my childhood, I wanted to be an archaeologist, a biologist, or a psychoanalyst—not that I always understood what people in those professions do. But those early ambitions faded away and I ended up becoming an artist and a writer. In fact, when I was kid I spent a lot of my free time reading and drawing. My sister and I created an entire town of imaginary characters. We drew their faces on ruled paper and made up stories about their lives, as dramatic as any on a soap opera. This was probably pretty good training for writing books.
Writing a novel is hard work that involves lots of wadded-up paper and many clicks of the delete key. But it’s also fun. You get to create characters and come up with interesting twists and turns to put them through. Sometimes writers recycle pieces of their lives to use in a story. I sure did. Lu, my main character, is from Argentina. So am I. After my family immigrated to the U.S., I spent my growing-up years in Alabama, which is why you’ll find plenty of Southern twang in my novel, as well as some South American flair. After Lu’s school desegregates, she goes through some rough and tough challenges involving racism. This happened to me, too. But almost everything else in Lu’s story was invented. For example, she’s a talented runner with winning potential. Not true of me!
Three things you didn’t know about me
Something goofy: Can you draw curves or faces on an Etch A Sketch? I can. You should try it!
Something magical: A few years ago, while I was vacationing at the beach, a tiny shorebird stood in the palm of my hand to nibble on some crushed corn chips. I’ll never forget the feeling of its tender feet pressing against my palm. Luckily, I have a video of that moment and can relive it whenever I want.
Something wild: When I was in fourth or fifth grade, a snake expert came to visit my school. That’s how I got the chance to hold a king snake. I won’t lie—it was a bit weird, because the snake wiggled a lot and its skin was as rough as pebbles. Still, it was a super-cool experience and I’d happily do it again. See? I told you I was a nerd!