My mother read to us every day. She made the magical world of Narnia and The Borrowers come alive. We were also often packed up for outings to New England-mountains or the ocean. I learned about storytelling from my father, who explained the constellations, the causes of fog, how sap changes into maple syrup, and what a starfish is.
I started writing stories and poems and keeping a diary in second grade. I think that it helps all writers to keep track of the questions and the wonderings they have, and to experiment with words.
When I grew up, I was a librarian for ten years. I loved acting out books with children during story hours and giving book talks to get children excited about my favorite books. Eventually, I moved to New York City. While I was working on a children's magazine, I remembered visiting Plimoth Plantation and suggested we take photographs there. That was how my first book, Sarah Morton's Day, began.
Making books involves many people. I have an editor who shares my belief that telling stories in the first person and using photographs help people understand history. People at the museums where the photographs for my books have been taken are extremely helpful. They even make special clothes for the actors who play the parts of the children!
My writing process involves about six months of research and two months of writing a first draft. When the story is finished, I make a list of the photographs we need to take. Then the photographer and I spend about one week at the museum working with the actors.
I love writing. It combines the things that were so important to me growing up-storytelling and immersing myself in another time and place. I learn about writing from reading, reading, reading and practice, practice, practice.