In a Nutshell
I was born and grew up in Winnipeg. In my twenties, I traveled
around the world, mostly by ship, working in England and Australia.
Then I moved to Vancouver, where I earned a B.A. and an M.Ed. at the
University of British Columbia. Vancouver is really beautiful.
I still live here, a five-minute walk from the ocean. I'm an
ex-college teacher, an ex-editor, an ex-travel agent and . . .
Now I'm the author of more than twenty books for kids.
Best known are the Stevie Diamond mystery series, the Good Times
Travel Agency adventures, and the picture books about Stanley the
dog, illustrated by Bill Slavin. Many of my books have now travelled
around the world just like me.
As a Child
I was a reader and a daydreamer. Thank goodness for that. Reading
and daydreaming are fabulous preparation for becoming a writer.
But of course, that's not all I did. There were
a lot of kids in my neighbourhood a lot! and we tore
around in gangs, playing cops-and-robbers and cowboys-and-cowgirls
and wrecking the flower beds. Always, always, my favourite games
were the ones that start with "Let's pretend." (Pretending is
the other thing that's excellent preparation for writers.)
Becoming a Writer
I snuck up on it! For many years, I was scared of writing. I
was afraid to try in case I was awful. So I did other "booky" things
instead. I taught literacy classes. I edited educational
Then I had two daughters. They loved stories!
I loved to read! It was perfect! We tore through
hundreds of kids' books. Slowly I began to find the courage
to write my own. The first to be published was a mystery novel
called How Come the Best Clues Are Always in the Garbage? It
led to . . .
Thrilling Life of a Writer
Well, actually . . . no. You would not want to watch
me work. I write in my notebook. I stare into space.
I type on my computer. I stare. I type. I write.
I stare. (Yawn.)
But in another way, it is thrilling. Inside
my head, dogs are having parties. Chickens are playing hockey.
Detectives hang precariously from fire escapes. My inner
life is extremely exciting! On the outside? Not so much.
Travels & Adventures
often write about characters who go on journeys and have adventures.
Maybe it's because many of my most powerful memories are of
times when I've been in some far-away place, experiencing something
Examples? Once I traveled by ship through a
hurricane on the North Atlantic terrifying, but unforgettable.
Another time, I spent the night in a haunted castle in Ireland,
just me and an extremely nervous friend. Later I rode wild horses
in the Australian Outback. (They're called brumbies there.)
Also in Australia, I camped on the banks of the East Alligator River.
No alligators visited my tent, but a water buffalo came by at
3:00 a.m., and I'm not kidding he sounded exactly like
I'm wildly proud of my two wonderful daughters, all grown up. They
share my love of books and faraway places. Lia is an amazing
flamenco dancer and a talented freelance journalist, now living in
Toronto. Tess is a Ph.D. student in biology who hangs around with
spirit bears and mountain sheep (and sometimes even camels).
And speaking of wild animals. . .
My Amazing Dog Who Was
Sophie was the amazing dog who inspired all the Stanley books. She
was around for 13 hilarious years, and she made me laugh almost every
day. Basically, she was a clown in a dogís body.
Dogs donít live as long as people, and thatís
sad. But Iím lucky to have known a dog like Sophie for all those years,
and I will always be grateful that she let me write about her.
My Favourite Things to Do
Read. Write stories. Travel. Eat. (Not necessarily in that order.)
Sometimes I can do several of these things at once.
Traveling and eating, for instance. Hereís me in a cooking class in
Florence. We made pasta from scratch. It was SO worth the effort!