I grew up around the corner from my grandparents' dairy farm, which was three miles outside of a small town called Phoenix. As a child I loved Mary Poppins and Dr. Doolittle, and I can remember getting up ahead of everyone else in the family so that I could huddle in a chair and read The Voyages of Dr. Doolittle. I also read lots of things that people consider junk (Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Tom Swift, and zillions of comic books). My only real regret is the time I spent watching television, when I could have been reading instead. (After all, a mind is a terrible thing to waste!)
The first time I can remember thinking that I would like to be a writer came in sixth grade, when our teacher — Mrs. Crandall — gave us an extended period of time to write a long story. I loved doing it. I started working seriously at becoming a writer when I was seventeen.
Like most people, I was not able to start selling my stories right away. So I had many other jobs along the way to becoming a writer, including toy maker, gravedigger, cookware salesman, and assembly line worker. Eventually I became an elementary teacher, and worked with second and fourth graders.
When I was nineteen I married Katherine Dietz, who lived right around the corner from me. She was (and is) a wonderful artist, and we began trying to create books together. However it was not until 1977 that we finally sold our first book, which was called The Foolish Giant. We did two other books together — Sarah's Unicorn and The Monster's Ring.
Kathy and I have three children; a son, Orion, born in 1970; a daughter, Cara, born in 1975; and another son, Adam, born in 1981.
I feel like a very lucky person. From the time I was young, I had a dream of becoming a writer. Now that dream has come true, and I am able to make my living doing something I really love.