Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
After many years as a children’s book editor at such publishing houses as HarperCollins, Scholastic, and Simon & Schuster, I became a full-time freelance writer. Now I’ve had more than 115 books published for boys and girls, specializing in adventure stories and books for reluctant readers.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My most recent book is called Bernie’s Bad Jokes. It was inspired by a beloved cat — Bernie, of course, the same one who stars in the photos in the joke book — who died suddenly before he was 5 years old. Bernie was a strange, awkward, and hilarious cat, which is why I’m honoring him with terrible but funny jokes. It’s the first children’s book I’ve self-published.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Sometimes if I drink too much Diet Coke while writing, I’ll stand up on my swiveling desk chair to type more intensely.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
The whole journey was first influenced by L. Frank Baum and the Oz books.
What are you working on now?
A long, middle-grade novel that I’ve been putting together for more than 7 years now.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Pinterest seems to get the most traction, but my own website helps, too. I just have to make it more mobile friendly!
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Really, I think this is the only advice: keep writing. The only way out is through.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Do not compare yourself to anyone else. You’re on your own journey with its own challenges and timeline.
What are you reading now?
I just finished When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead. I’m not usually a fan of time travel stories, but that was lovely.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Finishing the big novel that I’ve been carrying around for years, and then . . . scripts for an animated TV show.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
Gone with the Wind
A big book of modern short stories, like a Norton.
A Wrinkle in Time
The Magic of Xanth