Early each morning I listen to the birds sing as they welcome the new day, play with my kitties and parrot, kiss Dave good morning, then walk into my studio to fulfill my life long dream of creating children’s books.
I live with my husband, Dave, two kitties, and a little green parrot. We share a red house together in the middle of a New Hampshire wood. In winter we snowshoe and chop lots of wood. In summer we garden, hike and canoe, and in every season, I make art and write stories.
Even though I dreamed of being a writer and artist, it took me a long time to do this full time. First of all I was born on a little island in Alaska. My dad was a soil scientist and we spent a lot of the time flying to other remote islands. We lived in a tent and had bears and other critters for neighbors. Here I learned a love of nature, animals, and wild places that inspire my books today.
As I grew up, my family moved a lot throughout the West, but I spent my summers with my grandparents in Wisconsin. They were biologists and studied birds. They lived in an old farmhouse without running water, but shared their home with eagles, owls, hawks and other wildlife. I learned to band marsh hawks, raise kestrel chicks, feed owls, and take care of many different animals.
My grandmother wrote books, flew eagles and traveled the world into her 90’s. She is my greatest inspiration.
Our family was an eccentric menagerie with cats, fish, parakeet, dogs, owls, eagles…. mostly we all got along. And now, each one of these animals inspires the characters that show up in my stories.
Before I knew I wanted to be an author and illustrator, I thought I wanted to be a paleontologist. As a kid, I was crazy about dinosaurs! So crazy, when I turned 14, I wrote dozens of letters to museums asking if I could volunteer on a dinosaur dig. And that’s what I did. The summer I turned 15, I worked for the Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in the badlands of Canada, digging up dinosaur fossils. I returned every summer until I went to college to study geology. My interest in dinosaurs has inspired many of my books too.
Then I met my future husband, Dave, and together we rode our bicycles across the country. 3300 miles in 30 days, we rode like the wind! We carried everything we needed on our bikes up mountain passes and through head winds, but the trip didn’t seem that hard, mostly because we were falling in love.
Eventually my greatest love, creating art, took over and I started painting and writing stories. As a kid I imagined a life where I would live in a little red house in the middle of New England with animals to love and stories to write. And that’s what I’m doing. The reality is every bit as fun as the dream!
Today my critters are my greatest inspiration. The deer born outside my studio window, the bear who snitches seed from the bird feeder, the mice who move into the cupboards each fall, the kitties who snooze by the wood stove, and of course my silly little parrot. I’m writing a book about her right now!