I was born in Chicago in 1956. In the early years, my family moved around quite a bit because my father was looking for work. I also moved around quite a bit as a grown-up. Now I’ve pretty much settled on Los Angeles, though who knows what the future holds? I’ve lived in the Los Angeles area for fourteen years now. I’ve had a bunch of jobs: secretary, typist, publicist, waitress. My kids’ books are Kira-Kira, winner of the Newbery Medal; Weedflower, winner of the Pen USA award; Cracker, winner of six state awards where the kids vote on their favorite books; Outside Beauty, which is for older kids; A Million Shades of Gray; and The Thing About Luck, winner of the National Book Award. For more info, visit my website.
At the end of your Chinese meal, what would you like your fortune to read?
Your son will live a long, happy life.
What would you hate to see charging at you in the middle of an open field?
Anything at all.
What is the best thing about getting old?
You appreciate life so much more. Every day seems like a wonderful gift.
What is a song that you could listen to all day, every day, on repeat?
Like a Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan.
What was the worst grade you’ve ever received? Best?
I’m sure I received some F’s, but I never looked at the report card or the transcript. I also got A’s. It depended on the subject. I was only interested in English.
What is the most shocking sight you’ve ever witnessed?
My arm ripped to shreds after someone hit me with a car while I was walking on the sidewalk!
How do you balance your personal life and your creative endeavors?
I don’t think I really balance them exactly. They’re both kind of mashed together. I don’t compartmentalize very well.
Is there a particular place where you feel most creative?
I feel extremely creative when I’m traveling on the road, especially on a train or bus…well, I haven’t been on Greyhound in a long time, but I do ride Amtrak periodically, and I like to write while I’m sitting by the window.
How do you deal with creativity blocks?
I just do other things, either start a new project or draw something or even wash the dishes and clean up. Eventually the clouds clear and I can write again. I try not to panic.
Can you visualize a finished product before you begin a book?
Wow, that would be so wonderful if I could, but no, I can’t.
If you were no longer able to write, how else would you express your creativity?
I’d love to be an artist. Don’t know if I have the talent, but I could try.
Do you feel that you chose your passion, or did it choose you?
Oh, it absolutely chose me. I had no choice at all.
Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?
I was always very stubborn when I was a kid, and I think I just retained that as I got older.
What has been your greatest sacrifice that has enabled you to become the author you are today?
Well, you have to give up everything else in the world, all your dreams, in order to fulfill this one, huge dream of being a writer. It’s totally worth it though.