1. What is your earliest memory of writing/drawing?
My earliest memory of this is being read to by my mother. Her love of books and reading instilled that love in me at a very young age.
2. What inspired you to write/illustrate your first book?
Reading books to my daughter when she was young inspired me. I was impressed with how much both the art and text had changed in picture books since I was young and decided I wanted to try the form myself. The first story I wrote as an adult was NIGHT DRIVING.
3. Do you use your childhood as inspiration?
Yes. I am inspired by things that happened to me, things I wanted to have happen to me, and things I can’t imagine happening to me.
4. What books from your childhood have most influenced your work? What about adult titles?
Three from childhood that are significant are Go Dog Go, The Day Daddy Stayed Home, and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. The list of books that have influenced me is so long and so broad. Three recent authors I have read that I’ve connected with are Junot Diaz, Louise Erdrich, and Richard Price. Favorite poets are William Stafford, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Eiizabeth Alexander.
5. What are your hobbies and interests besides reading and books?
Travel, basketball, yoga, politics, history, life.
6. Who are a couple of your favorite author/illustrators? What is it about their work that inspires and interests you?
Christopher Paul Curtis and Chris Crutcher are heroes. I am inspired by the new ground they break. Peter McCarty, Lelsie Jean-Bart, Joe Cepeda, and Carolyn Fisher are illustrators I’ve worked with and I’m inspired by their new work.
7. What one or two words of advice would you give for young authors/illustrators?