I’m all about books.
I write books—everything from picture books for the youngest to young adult novels, fiction and nonfiction, almost 40 titles in all. During my time as a youth editor for Booklist Magazine, the review journal of the American Library Association, I reviewed thousands of books. My home library goes from the basement to the attic, filling all the floors in between. On those shelves are books I read and loved as a child. Among my favorites: the Betsy-Tacy series, by Maud Hart Lovelace; the books of Beverly Cleary; and the Shoes series, by Noel Streatfeild. As far as books for my adult self, I especially like biographies, historical fiction, and the works of Charles Dickens—most of them, anyway.
I’ve been lucky in my career, as I’ve gotten to write books
about subjects that interest me personally and then share
that enthusiasm with my readers. President John Kennedy stirred my interest in politics and government, and in JFK and his family in particular. That led me to wonder what kind of child Jack Kennedy was and what led to his run for president, so I wrote Jack: The Early Years of John F. Kennedy. A fascination with religion sparked The Dead Sea Scrolls, Faith and Fury, and The Golden Rule. And my fangirl adoration of the Beatles from their earliest days gave me the idea me to write This Boy: The Early Lives of John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
My love of writing nonfiction is partly rooted in my love of doing
the research. I’ve been to Israel, Massachusetts, the Hudson
River Valley, and Liverpool, England, to study my subjects.
The research is fun! The writing can be hard. Writing fiction is also enjoyable, especially when I’m writing about Lucy, the squirmy, adorable little beagle. But when writing a story, you don’t really know the beginning, the middle, and the end, the way you do in nonfiction. So that can be a challenge. How is this story going to turn out?
As a kid, I spent hours in the Rogers Park Branch of the Chicago Public Library. After I earned a journalism degree from the University of Missouri, I got a Masters degree in Library Science, which put me on the path to working at the Winnetka Public library. Then came my job at Booklist, and it was in those years that I started writing books of my own. I’ve been surrounded by books my whole life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!