Where did you grow up?
I grew up in New Jersey. We spent a lot of time at the shore. It was my favorite place. I remember the sand being so hot and the waves being freezing cold. We always had to wear a hat.
What is your earliest memory of writing/drawing?
I don’t think I got the writing bug before I was in college. I won the best short story in my children’s literature class. It was entitled Freckle Face! Later, after I was married, I would dabble in short poems from time to time.
What inspired you to write/illustrate your first book?
After I had been teaching for a few years, I self-published a book about our city of Toledo, OH, entitled, If They Could See Me Now! I also illustrated it. I felt our city had some wonderful history and I wanted children to know more about it.
Do you use your childhood as inspiration?
I remember all my emotions, good and bad, as a child. I was afraid of the dark. I was painfully shy. I remember the excitement of Christmas, and the joy of getting a new baby brother. In some ways, I am still six years old inside.
What books from your childhood have most influenced your work? What about adult titles?
I loved all books, from nursery rhymes and fairy tales to The Arabian Nights and Uncle Wiggley’s Fortune. Dad read to us every night. I enjoy a wide variety of adult books, but probably a good mystery tops the list.
What are your hobbies and interests besides reading and books?
Good jazz, Italian cooking and tennis!
Who are a couple of your favorite author/illustrators? What is it about their work that inspires and interests you?
My favorite author/illustrator is Douglas Florian. His poetry is amazingly clever and silly. Just what kids love. I’ve memorized a few of his books because I read them so many times to my kindergarteners.
What one or two words of advice would you give for young authors/illustrators?
Write for the fun of it. Don’t expect it to be perfect at first. The more you write, the better it will be.