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 thirty-five books for kids. Best known perhaps are my picture books about a dog called Stanley (Stanley's Party and others, 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 books.
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 . . .
The 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
I 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 extraordinary.
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 an
My Wonderful Kids
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. Tess is a Doctor of Biology who hangs around with spirit bears and fruit flies (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!