The author was interviewed by students on

Why did you start writing books?
I got fired from my boring job at a law firm. I decided I wanted to work at something I enjoyed. I've always loved to read and write. People always tell me how lucky I am to be able to do this for a living. I've found that the harder I work, the luckier I get.

How long have you been writing?
I've been writing pretty much since the second grade, and professionally (getting paid!), for the last seven years. I remember my teachers commenting on how well I could write ever since I was in elementary school. I didn't think it was any big deal and I didn't realize that writing was a talent until I was thirty and started writing professionally.

What advice would you give to young writers?
If you want to be a writer, your first stop should be the library. You should read as much as you can and check out books about writing. Writing is a very important skill — if you can write well, you're just as gifted as any other type of artist.

How old are you? When were you born? Are you married? Do you have kids?
I was born after the dinosaurs died. I've been married almost 24 years. I have a wonderful husband named Michael, my one and only daughter Deanna (D.D.), and a lovely grandchild named Anysa.

Where do you get your ideas?
I don't know where my ideas come from, but if you sit quietly long enough, something will pop into your head. I enjoy that wonderful feeling you get when you have a great idea and can't wait to start to work on it.

Why do you like to write books for children?
I love children and I like to write books especially for them. I love picture books because it's a challenge to convey complex ideas in a simple form for children. I really enjoy factually and vividly presenting history in a 32– or 48–page book. It's wonderful to be able to hold a child's attention and teach them something important. I also love writing books that are silly and make children laugh!

I also enjoy thinking about all the children who have read my work. I have books available in Africa, France, England, and other places I don't even know about. It's fun to think that someone is reading one of my books or checking them out of the library.

Who was your favorite author when you were a child?
As a child, my favorite author was Laura Ingalls Wilder. I also enjoyed biographies about famous people in history. My tastes in books have changed a lot since then. But I still love biographies, and 90 percent of the books I read are children's picture books!

What are your hobbies?
I love to read, visit museums, and go to the theater.

What is your favorite color?
My favorite colors are reds, yellows, and purples.

Do you have any pets?
I don't have pets, except a plastic chicken.

I'm so busy with sports, it's hard to find time to read.
The great thing about a book is that you can take one wherever you go. Read a book on your way to practice and on your way home. Read a chapter before you go to bed at night. You'd be surprised how much reading you can fit in a day!