The first thing I can remember wanting to be is a children’s book writer and illustrator. I went through sketchbooks so fast my mother bought me rolls of shelf paper to draw on, and I remember being scolded for bringing books to the dinner table. When my parents made me turn off my bedside lamp at the end of every evening, I would read by the tiny red light on the temperature control for my electric blanket. I grew up in Riverside—a rather hot part of southern California. I was forced to sweat through many books, and not just because I was worried about the hero or heroine.
When I was in college I spent a year in Nairobi, Kenya, as an exchange student. I didn't know much about Africa before I left, but I knew it had lots of wildlife. I traveled throughout East and Central Africa and saw lions, elephants, gorillas, Cape buffalo, and many other animals. I met my future husband, Rob, in Kenya. He was an exchange student from the University of California–Berkeley. We both loved living in another country.
I have a B.A. in social science from the University of California–Irvine, and a Master of Public Health from the University of California–Berkeley. I’ve worked as a legislative assistant for foreign affairs for a California congressman and as an international health consultant. Over the years, Rob and I lived in the Marshall Islands, South Africa, the Philippines, and Japan. We have three children, Travis, Kelsey, and Connor. Ea We now live in Oakland, California. When I write I am ably kept company by my yellow Labrador retriever, Genki, and my son Connor’s cockapoo, Tux. They sometimes respond to “sit.” They always respond to “cookie.” I also have an Australian White’s tree frog named Dumpy F. Lumpy who responds to nothing except juicy crickets.