Hi and welcome!
I was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1970. My dad was a professor of Chinese Studies at Harvard University and I remember playing in front of the Yenching Libary with the stone lions. I guess you could say they were my first experience with library lions. Have you ever read Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen? You should — it’s great!
When I was two, my dad got a new job at Antioch College and we moved to the small town of Yellow Springs, Ohio. The town was so small that there was only one traffic light. Okay, maybe two. I spent my free time riding ponies (because I was too short to ride horses), baking cakes and cookies, and following my older brother all over town. When I wasn’t doing one of those things, I was reading. I always had a book in my hand — in bed, at the dinner table, even while taking a bath! I knew I wanted to be a writer when one of the poems I’d written in school was published in the town newspaper. I felt like I had made it – I was now a published author! It didn’t matter to me that all of my second-grade classmates had had their poems published, too.
My family moved back to Massachusetts just before I started 7th grade. My mom was a nurse and I started volunteering in the hospitals where she worked. I liked learning about science and medicine. When I went to Wellesley College, my parents insisted that I study science or law. I chose biology and set my sights on medical school. It was during an ecology class that I realized I didn’t want to spend my life working in a hospital – I wanted to be outdoors, or at least doing something to help the environment. After college, I got a Master’s degree in environmental studies from the University of Indiana – Bloomington and moved back to Massachusetts to become an environmental consultant. I helped clean up polluted land all over the state.
While I was an environmental consultant, I got married and had two kids. I decided to leave my job and stay home with them. I had never stopped reading in my free time, but now I started writing again, too. I took online classes and then got another Master’s degree, this time in Creative Writing for Young People from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. My old dream of being an author became my new dream, and I’m thrilled to be living it!
I have written seven nonfiction books for libraries and schools. They are about people (Malala Yousafzai), places (Georgia, Maine, and Asia), animals (gorillas), and something I know a lot about — fossil fuel pollution. My first fiction picture book, The Nian Monster, was published in December 2016 by Albert Whitman & Co. I moved to Denver, Colorado with my family and am currently hard at work on a middle grade novel.