1. What is your earliest memory of writing/drawing?
My first grade teacher kept a stack of paper--that was lined on the bottom half for writing and left blank at the top for illustrations--on his desk, and I was permitted to use as many of those papers as I wanted once I was finished with my class work. My first completed short story was a ten-page illustrated epic in which I went to Hollywood, starred in a movie, and won an Academy Award.
2. What inspired you to write/illustrate your first book?
I started writing a short story entitled "All Her World's A Stage" but I couldn't cram all the shiny in five thousand words. So when one of my friends casually suggested I write a novel, I thought, "Why not?" and three months later, I had the draft of EYES LIKE STARS.
3. Do you use your childhood as inspiration?
Absolutely. I started doing community theater when I was seven, so I spent almost as much time on a stage as a child as Beatrice Shakespeare Smith does.
4. What books from your childhood have most influenced your work? What about adult titles?
I loved BALLET SHOES by Noel Streatfeild and dearly wanted to be an actress like Pauline Fossil when I grew up. She played Peaseblossom in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, so there I was, about nine or ten, asking for a COMPLETE WORKS OF SHAKESPEARE for my birthday. I still have it--leather-bound, with gilt edges and vellum pages--and it became the inspiration for The Book in EYES LIKE STARS. And when Bertie needed sidekicks, I instantly knew it should be the four fairies from MIDSUMMER.
5. What are your hobbies and interests besides reading and books?
Old-fashioned baking, like making bread and jam from scratch. Treasure-hunting in antique stores where oddities are crammed higgledy-piggeldy and everything is somewhat dusty (all the better to hide the Magic.) Visiting Disneyland, making jewelry out of old pocket watches, swing dancing to Big Band music, visiting 24-hour diners, and searching for the rabbit hole to Wonderland....
6. Who are a couple of your favorite authors? What is it about their work that inspires and interests you?
I love any book that can open the door between reality and the imagination, so authors like Lewis Carroll, Neil Gaiman, Charles de Lint continually delight me. L.M. Montgomery's characterizations were absolutely brilliant. Patricia McKillip's descriptive work turns me green with envy. Terry Pratchett's humor gave me permission to crack wise.
7. What one or two words of advice would you give for young authors?
Write what makes you happy so that your passion shines through the words.
8. Where do you find inspiration for your writing?
I love being around other creative people, so going to the theater never fails to give me tens of thousands of ideas. We recently saw a production of Cirque de Soleil's Corteo that was absolutely phenomenal. I'm all about the costuming, really.
9. What’s your idea of the best meal ever?
French picnic food... baguette, smelly cheese, fresh fruit, and something chocolate and crumbly for dessert.
10. If you could travel in time, where would you go?
On the maiden voyage of the Titanic. Once I'd attired myself properly, I'd grab the Captain by his beard and make sure he paid attention to the ice warnings.