Read. My father was always telling me to go out and play, but I preferred to sit and read.
What books influenced you most when you were growing up?
First, THE STORY OF FERDINAND, which introduced me to the Public Library and THE SILVER INKWELL by Phyllis Whitney, about a young woman who was trying to become a writer. I hadn’t realized before reading that book that books were indeed written by real people.
Did you write stories when your were growing up? At school? Or at home as a hobby? As a young child, or as a teenager, or both?
Yes to all.
When you were a child did you ever have moments when you decided that you were going to be a writer when you grew up?
I wanted to be Brenda Starr, star reporter. The idea of writing anything else never occurred to me.
What audience did you have in mind for your career as a writer – adult or children?
When I began to send things out, I had both kinds of stories out – some for adults, some for young people. But I began to find that I didn’t care about the stories I’d written for adults, but I cared very much about what I’d written for young people. So I stopped writing stories for adults.
When you went to college were you already pursuing a writing career?
I got kicked out of the School of Journalism my first year – because I kept making up endings to my coverage of events. After that I majored in psychology.
Do your focus on fiction or nonfiction? Which do you prefer?
I prefer writing fiction – thought I like to read both fiction and nonfiction.
Do you do other types of writing?
I’ve written poems and stories for magazines, stories for the Los Angeles Times Kid’s Page – and crossword puzzles for the Children’s Book Council.
Do you work on more than one book at a time?
Generally, no. I immerse myself in the book I’m working on.
Do you write every day and do you have set hours that you work?
I write SOMETHING every day, even if it’s only one sentence that could go into the book I’m working on. I write in the morning. If it’s going really well, I might write in the afternoon as well,, but usually I work from 7:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
What do you most want the students to get out of your school visits?
That reading is an enjoyable thing to do.