The oldest of three siblings, I was born in Southern California, near Disneyland. As a kid, I rode bikes with long banana seats, roller-skated, and strung sheets across the front porch, so my sister, brother, and I could perform theatrical shows for 5 cents a ticket.
I wasn’t a writer, but I did make up stories – usually to entertain myself on long car rides or at recess. I might never have written my stories down if it weren’t for a lizard named Bill.
Bill, a green anole, was my pet when I was in college. One spring day, as I held him on my outstretched palm to introduce him to my father, Bill took a giant leap and landed smack in the middle of my dad’s face! It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. And it seemed like a good jumping off place for a children’s book. So, I wrote one.
During the next 27 years, I finished my degree in set design for theater, met my husband, got married, taught preschool, had a baby, homeschooled that baby, and wrote. I wrote short stories, essays, magazine articles (Some of them were even published.), and I penned a monthly column in the local newspaper called “People in My Neighborhood.” Every few years I would take out the lizard story, rewrite it, and send it off on submission. I collected the rejections in a shoe box.
Finally, when my baby was grown, I dusted off the lizard story, rewrote it (again), entered it in a contest, and won!
From then on, I was determined to become a published author. I wrote new stories. I joined a critique group. I took classes. I started a book club dedicated to reading picture books. I found mentors, teachers, and writing friends who cheered me on every step of the way. Finally, in 2016, I met my first agent and in 2018 she sold my first book. The Great Stink: How Joseph Bazalgette Solved London’s Poop Pollution Problem was illustrated by Nancy Carpenter and came out on August 31, 2021. The following year, it received a Golden Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and a Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Honor Award from the Association of Library Services to Children. An honor indeed!
I’m represented by Lori Steel of Red Fox Literary
Where do you live?
Los Angeles, California.
Do you have any kids?
I have one grown-up daughter named Kova. She’s an aspiring music producer with dreams of hitting it big.
What about pets?
Ravenpaw, an adorable black cat.
Where do you get your ideas?
I find ideas everywhere. But my best ideas tend to turn up when I’m traveling or reading.
How long does it take you to write a book?
So long. It’s different for each project, but the average for nonfiction books is about two years.
What do you like best: researching, writing, or revising?
Researching, then revising, then writing. I love researching because I’m constantly learning something new. I like revising because it’s like solving a puzzle. For me, the writing is the hardest part.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love traveling, reading, hiking, and dancing.
What was your favorite book when you were a kid?
When I was small: The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone and The Lonely Doll by Dare Wright. When I was medium: Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter. When I was a teenager: Any book written for teens by Judy Blume. I loved Judy Blume. I’ve seen her speak several times now as an adult, and as soon as she walks into the room, I start to cry.