Where do you get your ideas?
From personal experience, from items I read in newspapers, and from my own imagination. I write ideas on scraps of paper and keep them in my Ideas Box in my office. For example: I visited an old cemetery and noticed a row of gravestones that all had the same date of death. They were coal miners who had died in a mine explosion. That gave me the idea for THE GHOST’S GRAVE.
What is your favorite of the books you’ve written?
My three memoirs, SMALL STEPS, FIVE PAGES A DAY, and ANIMALS WELCOME are special because they are my own true experiences. For fiction, my favorite is usually the most recent book.
What was your first book?
My first book, WEDDING VOWS, was for adults. My first book for young people was WINNING MONOLOGS FOR YOUNG ACTORS.
What is your education?
One year at the University of Minnesota and one year at California state colleges. Plus LOTS of reading.
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to be a writer?
Read as much as you can, and practice writing. Writing is a skill, and the more you do it the better you get.
What’s the best part about being an author?
I do what I love and get paid for it. It’s fun to use my creativity and I like being my own boss. Writing is hard work, but when I hear from kids who tell me they never liked to read until they discovered my books, it’s worth it.
Did you ever find out how you got polio?
No. I probably got it from someone who had such a mild case that they were never diagnosed.
What are your hobbies?
I volunteer with an animal rescue group, doing foster care for rescued cats. I read A LOT. I love to do crossword and jigsaw puzzles. I like to bake, and knit, and watch baseball and gymnastics. I also love to watch the wildlife who live on my property. Having deer play tag in the yard is better than TV.
Will you send me an autographed book?
Most people are surprised to learn that I don’t get my books for free; I buy them. I get some free author copies when a book is first published, but those go to my family. Since I earn my living as a writer, I depend on book sales for royalties. I can’t buy my own books and then give them away.