Many writers say they made the decision to be a writer when they were very young. Not me. Being a writer would have meant sitting still too long. I guess I was what you might call an active child. My earliest memories are of being outdoors - usually up in trees, where I imagined myself in far away places!
My dollhouse was one of the few things that kept me out of trees. I spent hours making furniture for it. The Thorne Miniature Rooms at The Art Institute of Chicago were a major inspiration to me. My mother was an artist and she took me to the museum often and I never got tired of visiting the sixty-eight exquisite rooms. I tried hard to make my own perfect miniature worlds in my dollhouse.
I was the youngest of four kids. My mother taught me to paint and I always wanted to be an artist (although sometimes I wanted to be a scientist, too!). When I grew up and went to college at the University of Illinois, I majored in Art History and Studio Art. Along the way, I took metal-smithing courses. My first line of work after college was designing jewelry.
When I married and began raising my three children, I discovered so many of the great books for kids that I’d been too busy to read when I was young. I finally started to love reading and began to understand the freedom that writers must feel. I learned that writing – and reading – a story can take you into an imaginary world just as being way up in a tree takes you away from everyday life on the ground, and just as creating a dollhouse takes you into miniature imagined worlds.
When my oldest daughter entered middle school her best friend’s mother and I tried a little experiment; we wondered if we could start a school for girls, to make up for some of the deficits we saw in middle school education. Our little experiment worked and for the next decade I worked as the Art Teacher at Campus Middle School for Girls. I enjoyed working with this age group. It was then that I decided to write a book that my students might enjoy.
So now my kids have grown up and have begun their own lives. My husband Jonathan Fineberg and I live in Urbana, Illinois, a really nice college town surrounded by rich farmland and beautiful prairie which I am lucky enough to be able to gaze on out my window while I write.