Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia. Our house was in the woods on a small creek so we got to play outside a lot.
What is your earliest memory of writing/drawing?
I remember drawing a beautiful family of whales in crayon on my bedroom walls when I was about 3. To my surprise I was punished for that, but in general I was encouraged to draw.
What inspired you to write/illustrate your first book?
I always wanted to paint and draw in general and to illustrate books in particular. I remember the way the pictures in books got inside my whole self when I was little—I wanted to make pictures you could get inside of in that way.
Do you use your childhood as inspiration?
I think the things I saw and felt as a child made me who I am today in most ways.
What books from your childhood have most influenced your work? What about adult titles?
I loved The Poppy Seed Cakes by Maud and Miska Petersham. Stuart Little and Charlotte (of Charlotte's Web) felt like personal friends. Garth Williams’s drawings always seemed just right. Now I think that is because they are tender without being sentimental. I loved the drawings by Barbara Cooney in Chanticleer.
What are your hobbies and interests besides reading and books?
Because painting is so inward and sedentary I like to get out and move around. I ride my bicycle a lot. I walk my dog and vice versa. I also like to bake bread and cook. I like to have friends over and make meals that include as many colors of food as possible.
Who are a couple of your favorite author/illustrators? What is it about their work that inspires and interests you?
I love the work of Maira Kalman because her work is so true to life but she also takes freedom. After I look at her pictures I see the world through her eyes a little. Alice and Martin Provensen's illustrations always delight me, and I like the words too. Mary Azarian's prints are as satisfying as homemade bread.
What one or two words of advice would you give for young authors/illustrators?
Spend time doing what you love. The more you put into it the more you will get out of it.