Frequently Asked Questions
When were you born?
I was born in 1984. This is a picture of me with two of my cousins in 1988. Notice my big, curly hair, frilly dress, and socks with my nice shoes. All trademarks of 1980’s fashion in America!
Do you have pets?
I do. I have two dogs–a 9 year old Shih Tzu named Guido and a one year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Galileo. Guido is very good, very quiet, and loves to sit next to me (or behind me on my chair) as I write. Galileo is a puppy and FULL of energy. He loves to bark, play fetch, run around outside, and bark. Oh, and bark! Did I mention he loves barking? Here is a picture of the two of them.
Where do you live?
I live in California about 45 minutes south of San Francisco, but I grew up in Colorado, which is why I love to set my stories there.
What were your favorite books as a kid?
I read pretty much anything I could get my hands on as a kid. The earliest books I remember reading and loving were by Shel Silverstein. The Giving Tree and his hilarious poetry in Where the Sidewalk Ends. Some of my favorite series were Nancy Drew and the Baby Sitters Club books. I also loved the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. When I was in sixth grade, I got hooked on adult thrillers by Mary Higgins Clark. I loved how exciting they were without being too scary! (I hate scary books and movies!)
What inspired you to write All the Impossible Things?
I first got the idea for the story when my aunt and uncle in real life decided to become foster parents. They had grown children and even a grandchild, but instead of spending their “empty nester” years traveling the world, they decided to open their home to children who needed a safe place to live. I loved that! Celine and Jackson Groove in the book are based a lot on my aunt and uncle.
A few years after they started fostering, they ended up adopting a little girl. I was very careful to make Red different than my cousin because I didn’t want anyone to think it was a story about my cousin. There are some things that are similar between the two of them, but mostly Red is a figment of my imagination.
Why did you name the animals in All the Impossible Things so many funny names, and where did they come from?
All of the animals in the Groovy Petting Zoo are named after books or authors or writing in some way! I love naming animals unusual things. (See my answer above about my own dogs!) It was so much fun to come up with the names of the animals in All the Impossible Things.
Gandalf: Gandalf is a black, female Newfoundland dog in the story. Gandalf is also the name of the famous wizard in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. In the Tolkien stories, Gandalf is known as Gandalf the Gray or Gandalf the White. Of course, Gandalf in my story is a black dog–and a girl! I just liked playing with those conventions a little.
Tuck Everlasting: Tuck Everlasting is a book by Natalie Babbit about a family that accidentally drank the Fountain of Youth and is stuck the same age forever. I named the 400-lb tortoise in my story Tuck Everlasting because I love that book, and because tortoises live a long, long time. In my book, Tuck is more than 150 years old!
Fezzik: Fezzik is a miniature donkey in All the Impossible Things who feeds the chickens. He’s a tiny guy, with a big heart. I named him after a character in the book The Princess Bride by William Goldman. In that book, Fezzik is a giant human! In mine, he is a miniature donkey. But they both have big hearts.
Lancelot and Merlin: Lancelot and Merlin are named after the characters in the legend of King Arthur. One is a knight (Lancelot), which seemed appropriate because Lancelot in my story is a guard llama and protects the small herd of goats on the farm. Merlin is a wizard in the legend of King Arthur. I guess I just like naming animals after wizards! (Probably because animals are magical.)
Billie, Goat and Gruff: The three goats in my story are named after the story about goats called Three Billy Goats Gruff. I took one name and split it into three because I thought it was funny. (Especially for the goat named Goat.)
Brontë, Limerick and Frodo: The rest of the dogs at the Groovy petting zoo are just names I liked from the literary world. Brontë is named after the Brontë sisters, amazing writers from the 19th century. Limerick is a type of funny poem. And Frodo is named after the character from Lord of the Rings as well as my parents’ dog, Frodo.
Alfonzo and Flicka: The two horses are named after Alphonzo from Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren (actually, Alphonzo is only named in the movie, but still!) and Flicka is named after the horse in My Friend Flicka by Mary O’Hara.
Anne, Gilbert and Diana: Okay, so these names don’t actually appear in All the Impossible Things. But there are three unnamed rabbits at the Groovy Petting Zoo, and in my head I always knew that they were named after the characters from Anne of Green Gables that I loved so much.
Did you like writing when you were a kid?
Yes! I’ve always loved writing and telling stories. When I was little, I didn’t just want to write a story, though. I wanted to write books. So I would write my story on paper that I’d fold in half and staple together with other pages. Then I’d put a construction paper cover on it and illustrate it. And voila! I’d written a book!
When I was in first grade, my mom knew how much I wanted to see my name on a real book. So she went to a craft store and bought me a blank, hard bound book that was just a little bit smaller than the picture books that lived on my shelves. I got to write my story inside its pages, illustrate it, and then my mom wrote my name on the spine of the book when I was done. I felt like I’d really been published! I was so proud of that book that I still have it to this day. Here’s a picture of it.
Are you writing another book?
Yes! I will have a new book coming out with Roaring Brook Press in 2022. And I plan to keep on writing books for as long as I live!
What is your favorite part of being an author?
I love writing stories, but I think my favorite part of being an author is meeting young readers. I love, love, love talking to students in schools and meeting readers at bookstores and events! I can’t wait for the world to get back to normal so I can meet readers face to face again.
What is your advice to an aspiring author?
My first piece of advice to any aspiring writers is: read. Read lots of different things. Read things you want to write. Read long books and short books, picture books and poetry, nonfiction and drama. Read it all! The more you read, the more you will understand excellent writing. You’ll understand how stories work and why. Plus, you’ll be amazed at just how far-reaching the human imagination is! We humans are capable of dreaming incredible things, and the more we experience the imaginations of others, the bigger ours will get.
My second piece of advice is: only you can tell the stories inside your mind and heart. The world needs them! Remember that when the going gets tough–because it is hard. Writing is very, very hard sometimes. Sometimes you’d rather do anything than sit down and write words. Sometimes the words you do write are terrible and you’ll want to just give up and watch a movie.
Don’t give up. Keep going. Keep working. Because nobody else in the whole universe can tell your story. Only you. And we need it!