A. Waitress, advertising copywriter, magazine free-lancer, college teacher (still going on now).
A. Writing novels for children and young adults!
A. High school: Palos Verdes, California. College: University of California at Santa Barbara and University of Michigan.
A. Composer: Mozart
A. I'm fickle; today it's Tea with Mussolini.
A. Slings and Arrows (Canadian series). Also West Wing. Also Foyle's War (BBC).
A. Daily work to learn the sorcery of stories.
A. Fall seven times, stand up eight.
A. When I think of perfect happiness, I think of times when I am totally in the moment, completely engaged, not wanting to be or even think about a different time or place. Sometimes this happens when I’m writing, when the words are just flowing; I’m not really thinking, just taking it all down, living in that other world. When I was a kid, this would happen when I went wandering through the woods alone, or maybe playing the piano, or maybe dancing. Another ph occasion: holding my daughter in the rocking chair when she was a baby. She felt warm and heavy against me; her hair was silky; she smelled of milk. I could feel her breathing change as she slipped into a contented sleep. I flat-out knew in the deepest place that you can know things, that there was nothing in the world more important than what I was doing at that moment.
A. I'm actually a bit superstitious about naming my greatest fear. Fortunately, I have many, many other fears to choose from. So let's just go with scorpions. Eek!
A. I would love to be in Venice, sipping a latte in a sun-warmed piazza.
A. I have a hard time identifying with most people in history books -- the great and the powerful. But I like to imagine I could be somebody like Marie Curie. She found something interesting and valuable to do, and she just kept at it every day, not knowing if she would discover something awesome, but willing to put in the time, to try.
A. Nelson Mandela.
A. I've always used "really" a lot. And "actually." I love the world "fierce." Lately I've been overdoing it with "lovely" and "seriously."
A. I regret waiting so long, out of fear, to get serious as a writer.
A. I would love to be able to dance a flawless, steamy tango!
A. My daughter has grown up to be amazing. I'm pretty much busting with pride, Kellywise, though I know I can claim only a small part of the credit.
A. Courage, lack thereof.
A. I mess up so often myself, that I try to be understanding when others do likewise.
A. I'm okay with being me, but sometimes the life of a cat seems pretty sweet.
A. I don't know! My mom thinks it's my eyes. (They're like my dad's.)
A. I'm kind of fickle, but Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice) and Mma Ramotswe (The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency) are way up there near the top.
A. Again, I'm fickle, but Miss Havisham, with her yellow, withered bridal dress (Great Expectations) is one of my favorites.
A. I actually once had a dream that I met the novelist Charles Dickens. He was at a signing for his latest book, and nobody came but me. I figured I had him to myself, so I should ask him something useful. I knew that his novels were serialized in magazines, a section at a time. As soon as he finished each section, it would be published – before he finished the novel! I can’t imagine doing this, because when I get to the end of a book I realize all the mistakes I made at the beginning and have to go back and fix them. So in my dream, I asked Dickens how he did it. Did he just start at the beginning and write to the end and hope everything fit when he got there? Did he outline ahead of time? Did he know all along where he was heading? His answer was incredibly helpful. Just incredibly. Unfortunately, I forget what it was. So I’d go back and ask him again, possibly with my iPod voice recorder turned on.
A. When you call a business and they make you listen to a recorded phone message with a thousand options, but none of them fits the reason why you called.
A. Hiking, biking, hanging out with friends. Or reading, latte in hand.
A. Actually: children's book author. Backup fantasy professions: Airline pilot, jazz dancer.
A. 1. Kindness. 2. Sense of humor. 3. Sense of perspective about one's importance in the scheme of things.
A. Grilled cheese on honey wheat berry bread, made with Canadian black diamond cheddar. Nectar of the gods!
A. An incomplete list, in no particular order. I'm sure I've forgotten lots. Eloise McGraw Khaled Hosseini Katherine Paterson Edith Pargeter (Ellis Peters) Alexander McCall Smith Charles Dickens Leo Tolstoy Mary Doria Russell Mark Twain David Almond Ellen Howard Jane Austen Laurence Yep E.B. White Deb Wiles Nancy Farmer Kenneth Oppel Rita Williams Garcia Kathi Appelt Harper Lee Philip Pullman Neal Stephenson William Gibson Graham Greene W.B. Yeats William Shakespeare
A. Impossible question. As of this moment, my 5 are below. (Ask me another time and you might get a different list.) To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee A Thread of Grace, by Mary Doria Russell Skellig, by David Almond Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
A. More often, I reread my favorite parts of my favorite books, rather than the whole of them.
A. Pay special attention to the things that randomly interest you, especially if you don't understand why.