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Cynthia DeFelice

When I was a child, I never would have guessed that I would become a writer. But I did love to read, and I loved when my mother read to me and my brothers and sister. She read to us every night, acting out the voices of the characters in books with great enthusiasm. She passed along her love of language, and I'm sure it's because of her that I eventually became a children's author.

I read everything I could myself, too: Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books, comic books, MAD magazine, and so much more. My favorites were books that made me feel as if I were part of the story. Every summer vacation started with a trip to the drugstore, where we could pick out our own books for summer reading. I loved picking out my books, putting my nameplate in them, and deciding which one to read first.

I didn't become a writer until I was 36 years old. I had been an elementary school librarian, where it was my turn to read out loud to children, like my mother had done for us. I loved seeing their faces captivated by a good story, eyes wide and mouths hanging open. If only I could write a story to make them look like that, I thought . . .

So I gave it a try, and I did it! Now I have written 11 novels and 13 picture books, and I love what I do. I love creating a character out of thin air, and feeling that character come to life beneath my fingers on the computer keyboard. I love writing a book that I would have loved to read when I was a child. I love hearing from children that something I wrote touched them in some way, making them laugh or cry, or think and feel something special.

Writing the trilogy about Allie Nichols, "ghost magnet," was great fun. I was able to combine my love of spooky tales, dogs, and stories of family and friendship. Both Mr. Henry and Hoover were based on real characters. Mr. Henry is like my own 6th grade teacher, Henry Hermann, and I was crazy about him! He was wise and compassionate, like Mr. Henry in the book. Hoover was a real golden retriever, the "first child" of very good friends of mine. She was a beautiful dog with a winning personality. She was also very pampered, getting her own bag of popcorn every night! Sadly, she died of cancer when she was 6. My friends were devastated, but they are happy that Hoover lives on in my books.

I hope my books delight and entertain and help readers understand a little bit more about what it is like to be someone else and feel their emotions.

Susan Cheyney

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