Frequently Asked Questions from Kids

Here are some questions that I’m commonly asked during school visits and when students are writing a book report on me. Feel free to use this information for your reports!

Q: What is your favorite book (that you wrote)?

A: A Smart Girl’s Guide to Travel. (It’s not just for girls, by the way!) I love to travel so this was a really fun book for me to write. It encourages kids to get out and explore their own hometown and the world, which is really important to me. Kids can also learn what it’s like to travel outside of the country and get inspired by some of the amazing sights and destinations in this book. Be an adventurer!

Q: What do you like to do besides write?

A: I love to travel to faraway places, but I also love to explore my own city, Los Angeles, with my husband and daughter. There is so much to see and eat and do in Southern California. I live close to the ocean so I also like to go for a run or a bike ride on the beach.

Q: How long does it take to write a book?

A: My part of the book-making process usually takes about three months. I write a first draft, then it gets revised two to three times. Or sometimes more! But the timeline for a book (from coming up with the idea to printing the book then getting it in bookstores) can be as long as two years. Sometimes I’ve forgotten what I wrote by the time I get the finished book in my hands.

Q: Do you only write nonfiction?

A: I love writing nonfiction because my background is in journalism. But I also write fiction, and I’d like to write more of it! I’ve been writing a lot of narrative nonfiction, which is like a combination of the two. I have to craft an interesting story with a beginning, middle, and end but it also has to be filled with facts and real events.

Q: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

A: I always loved reading as a kid, but I don’t think I realized that I could be an author. It wasn’t until I was in college and I started working for the student newspaper that I really fell in love with writing. The first story I wrote appeared on the front page of the newspaper. Once I saw that, I was hooked! I thought it was so cool. I ended up majoring in journalism and working at a magazine for kids before I started writing books for kids.

Q: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A: I really liked drawing, so I wanted to be a Disney animator or an Imagineer, which are the people who design all the rides at the parks.

Q: How can I be a better writer?

A: Be a reader! The more you read, the better you’ll understand how a story works and what you do and don’t like about stories and characters. Then, when you’re ready to sit down and write, you can use all of that knowledge. Also, know that the first time you write something, it won’t be perfect. But done is better than perfect. You can always go back and fix things. But you can’t fix something that hasn’t been written down yet!

Q: Do you have any pets?

A: I used to have two dogs (Sluggo and Zowie) and a cat (Slippers) when I was growing up. But at some point when I became an adult, I started to get really allergic to cats and dogs. So sadly I do not have any pets!

Q: What is your favorite book (that you didn’t write)?

A: I love the Complete Tales and Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh. I’ve always been a Winnie-the-Pooh fan. I also love all the Harry Potter books, of course. And I’m a huge fan of Judy Blume.

Q: What is a typical workday like for a writer?

A: It involves a lot of time spent sitting at my computer alone and typing! Sometimes I work from a coffee shop but I mostly work from my home office. I try to get at minimum two hours of uninterrupted writing time working on my own projects each morning, and the rest of the day is spent working on projects for other publishers. Sometimes I’m writing and sometimes I’m editing things I’ve already written, which means I re-write what I’ve already written to make it sound better. Finally, at the end of the day, I respond to email and spend time promoting my books on social media.

Q: Do you always write about animals?

A: Not always! But kids love animals, so a lot of the books I work on are about animals. I also love to write about interesting people and places and events, as well as issues that are important to me, like how to live more environmentally friendly.

Q: Where did you grow up?

A: I was born in Wisconsin but moved to Illinois when I was just a baby. Since then, I’ve lived in five different states. Sometimes I forget my zipcode because I’ve moved around too much! I currently live in Los Angeles, California and I love the sunny, warm weather. My birthday is in January and it’s so nice to be able to do something outside instead of having a snow day, which is often what happened to me when I grew up!