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I am a mom, librarian, and writer living in my hometown of San Francisco.
My first book was the nonfiction San Francisco’s Glen Park and Diamond Heights (Arcadia). My first picture book, Journey: Based on the True Story of OR7, the Most Famous Wolf in the West, was published by Sasquatch Books in 2016. Journey was featured on NPR and the Huffington Post and is the winner of Bank Street College’s Cook Prize and Northland College’s SONWA award, as well as a finalist for SCBWI’s Crystal Kite award and for the Washington State Book Awards.
Coming up: a series of early chapter books called Maddy McGuire, CEO from ABDO Publishing (September 2018), a picture book entitled To Live on an Island from Sasquatch Books (April 2019), and a nonfiction picture book tentatively called The Pig War: Or How a Porcine Tragedy Taught Two Great Nations to Share from Calkins Creek, an imprint of Boyds Mill Press (date TBD).
I live in San Francisco with my husband, Alex, and our two kids, Everett (12) and Cate (9). I was born in Scotland, grew up in San Francisco, and have lived in New York, Santa Barbara, and Paris. Now I’m back home, living a block away from my childhood home.
Formerly a French teacher and magazine editor, today I work part-time as a children’s librarian and fill the rest of my days camping with Girl Scouts, failing to help with middle school math homework, protecting my lettuce from the slugs, watching British murder mysteries, and organizing the books in my Little Free Library. And writing.
I think picture books are about as magical as it gets. (Some of my favorites: Extra Yarn, by Mac Barnett; A Good Day, by Kevin Henkes; Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey; Library Lion, by Michelle Knudsen; and All the World, by Liz Garton Scanlon.) I started writing picture books when my kids were little, and I never thought I’d want to try another genre. Then they got a little older, and I fell in love with early chapter books. Now that my son is a tween, I’m considering jumping into middle grade. But YA? Never! Because, you know, my kids will never turn into teens.
- I wanted to be a vet all my life until college, when I took calculus. Then I decided just being a pet owner would be more than okay.
- I like working as a children’s librarian because the children’s room of a library is the ultimate safe, happy space.
- My favorite kid-lit authors are Kevin Henkes and Cynthia Rylant. Henry and Mudge was probably the first series that made me think, “Hey, kids’ books are good stuff!” (They also made me think, “Hey, I bet I could write something this good!” [One year later: Falls down laughing remembering brash claim.])
- I’ve always wanted to live in a small town.
- I love my neighborhood in San Francisco because it feels like a small town.
- I’ve always wanted to go to Morocco, Egypt, and India.
- I’ve lived in cool places like Paris, New York, and Santa Barbara, but now I’m a total homebody. I could happily never leave the house all day.
- I hate mushrooms. Ironic because my parents wrote a book about mushroom collecting and my brother collects and cooks them all the time.
- I love ramen. The 29-cent, MSG-filled, packaged variety. Would eat it every day if I dared.
- Packaged cookies make me mad.
- I have a weakness for murder mysteries. It used to be all Murder She Wrote ( long live Jessica Fletcher!). Now we’re watching Broadchurch and Shetland.
- I love crying over books. Someday, by Alison McGhee, Library Lion, by Michelle Knudsen, and Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney, will always do the trick.
- I love it when my kids get sick so I can baby them. I also like getting sick myself, but I never do.
- I’m irrationally scared of spiders and sharks. My kids know to tape paper over pictures of spiders in books we own. I’m wary of bodies of water, even freshwater ones (that’s the irrational part), although I’m proud to say I swam in Lake Tahoe and the Truckee River this past summer.
- I’m on a mission to perfect a homemade pie crust. My family approves this mission.
- I love to paint walls! I’ve painted every room in our house, some multiple times. But I’m so impulsive that I don’t always take the time to change my clothes, wipe down the walls, or put down drop cloths. This causes problems.
- I live a block away from my parents and the house I grew up in, and within walking distance of all three of my brothers.
- I’ve known my husband since preschool.
- Favorite smells: baking bread, sweet peas in the garden, pine trees in the Sierras, my dog’s fur.
- I like vacuuming. I vacuum every day. I hate dusting. I never dust. I can’t stand clutter but you wouldn’t know it because my house is cluttered.
- You know when the Christmas decorations come out in October, and people get all outraged? I so love it. Bring it on.
- I like old houses, watching the birds at our feeder, my children’s bedrooms, baking chocolate chips cookies (no raisins!), foggy weather, climbing roses, going out for dim sum, drinking tea with my daughter from my grandmother’s antique tea cups, playing catch with my son in the backyard, getting packages (these jeans will the perfect ones, for sure!), watching Goosebumps episodes with my kids on summer mornings, going to the pumpkin patch on fall afternoons, and making a buche de Noel every Christmas Eve.
- I’ve learned that family and good friends are the most valuable things in the world. Also, strong coffee. (Luckily, I have all three.)