Shortly after I had my first child, in 1991, I began writing for children. My first children’s book came about through my mother, who is a self-taught painter and who had illustrated two children’s books written by other writers. She had the idea that we could work together and it turned out she was right; we’ve collaborated on a number of picture books over the last decade. I love writing biographies. There is something so straightforward about the story—a beginning, a middle and an end. I’ve written biographies about people I admire, whose work and lives have been inspiring to me. I’m particularly interested—as both a mother and a human being—in the distinction, growing ever more blurred each day I am afraid—between celebrity and accomplishment. It seems that celebrity is paramount, obscuring everything else. But by writing biographies of people whose achievements I admire, I like to think that I am making that line a little clearer and more distinct. Fame for its own sake is not as meaningful as fame that stems from genuine accomplishment and I think this is a point worthwhile articulating—and stressing—to young readers.
Although I work across the genres—essays, articles, children’s books, novels and stories—in my true heart of hearts, I am a fiction writer; I like fiction best and eventually I was able to write and publish fiction for children too. I have loved this work deeply and truly. People often ask if it’s hard to switch voices and genres, but what I find is that I am always writing for the reader in me, and when I write for children, I write for the reader I once was, the one who is still very alive and present inside me.