I was born just after World War II in Northampton, Massachusetts, and grew up in what we call a "print-rich" atmosphere, surrounded by books. My father ran his own printing shop, and my mom was an artist with a taste for the unusual (such as keeping a dead starling in our freezer until she could properly draw it). From her I learned to see beauty in weeds, wandering roads, and bare winter trees. From my father, I learned to love the smell of paper and ink, books, and the magic of words.
When I was eight, I wrote my first story, which had a beginning, middle, and an end, about a dwarf trying to protect his house from a dragon.
I attended Bates College in Maine in the 1960's and learned how to form an essay, and how to select telling details. A year spent studying abroad in Oxford, England fed my love of literature. Although I got my M.A. T at UMASS and taught high school English for a year, I soon found that I would prefer to write books, rather than teach them.
My first book was nonfiction, on vultures, a subject suggested by my mother, and illustrated by her as well. Since then I've writte well over forty books, many of them historical picture books, as well as historical novels, poetry, and YA poetry.
For me, the telling of the story is the most exciting. Allowing a character into your brain and heart, listening to her words, and following the path of a story to its unknown end is a continuous delight and mystery. But, as I tell children, writing is just the first part; the dreaded part is revising and revising. I've been known to rewrite a picture book at least twenty times (Nettie's Trip South) and a novel numerous times over three years (Grasshopper Summer). Writing is not for the faint of heart--it takes courage, persistence, and the confidence that your vision and words are worth bringing out into the light of day.
I live with my husband in a house we designed and partly built in the hills of Western Massachusetts. Our son, Ben, is finishing his Senior Year at Hartwick College and our teenage daughter, Char, is a Senior in High School, as well as being a full-fledged writer herself, far better at plotting than her mother! Gardening, shoveling snow, watching hawks in the trees, playing games before the fire and caring for a not-too-manic Jack Russell terrier keeps me pretty busy. I am lucky to live such a life and cannot wait to see what new story will tap me on the shoulder and say, in a rather bossy voice, "Listen to me, write my story, give me life on the page."