Infrequently Asked Questions

Several recent letters asked me if I miss Minnesota. My answer is, no.  I don’t miss California, either, and I lived there longer than I lived in Minnesota. I don’t get asked about California because I have not written much about my experiences while I was there.

I have fond memories of my years in Minnesota and California. I was happy in both states but I don’t miss them because I’m happy now, too, here in Washington. I’ve always liked every place I ever lived because contentment comes from the inside, not from a location.

Another reader wrote that since so much of my personality seems to have been shaped by my polio experience, she wondered if, given a chance to live my life again, I would choose to still have polio. Again my answer is no, only this time it’s a big fat capital NO!

The original polio experience lasted about a year. At the end of that time I was emotionally stronger, more independent, more aware of what’s important, than I was at the beginning. There were many positive results to help balance the terrible fear, pain, and loneliness that I endured.

The negatives, however, keep coming. Post-polio syndrome limits me in myriad ways half a century after I was “over” the disease. It is frustrating to attend a granddaughter’s gymnastics meet and be unable to climb the steps into the bleachers in order to see well. Neck pain limits my computer time. Travel is increasingly difficult. The school visits that used to be such fun are now so fatiguing that I have quit doing them. There are dozens of small difficulties every day, all a result of the late effects of polio.

This is not to suggest that I am unhappy, because I’m not. I have an interesting, fulfilling, and joyful life – but it would be even better without polio.

Another question that’s been asked lately is, “How did you meet your husband?” The complete answer is in my book, Five Pages a Day: A Writer’s Journey.  The synopsis is that we both signed up to work at a church food booth at a county fair, and were assigned the same shift.

Many kids ask about favorites. What’s my favorite animal? I don’t have one. How could I choose? If I said “cats” Lucy’s feelings would be hurt, and if I don’t even want to think what Pete would do if I said that dogs are my favorite.  I like all of the animals. 

I don’t have a favorite color, either. For favorite food, I usually reply that it’s a chocolate milk shake – but on a cold, snowy day, I’d choose hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and nutmeg.

This last question has been popping up now and then for years: How many more books are you going to publish? That is a good question, and I have no idea what the answer is. There’s a new book coming out in November (Stolen Children from Dutton Children’s Books) and I have a proposal under consideration and another book partially written, plus several folders full of ideas that keep resurfacing every few months. How many of them will eventually become books is anybody’s guess. All I know for sure is that I will be writing today, and every day that I am able to do so. Some days I write for many hours, some days for only a few minutes. Some days the writing occurs only in my head and doesn’t get transferred to the keyboard until a later time. It depends on what else is happening in my life.

So I can’t promise any specific number of books, but I can promise that I will continue to work, at whatever pace I can manage. The books will get written, one page at a time.