As the youngest of five children with two working parents, I had to compete for attention. The best way to get one-on-one time with a parent or sibling? Ask them to read me a story! From my earliest memories, books meant special time with the people I adored.
As a preschooler, I used to scribble on a scrap of paper and ask my mother what I’d written. Genius that she was, she read back “my” pithy prose or imagery-rich poetry. I figured, hey, if I can write this well before I even learn to read, imagine what I’ll be able to do once I can actually make my letters! My first professional publication happened during high school—I submitted an original quip to Reader’s Digest: “Is a belly-dancer a waist of energy?” Then upon graduating from Cornell University, I did corporate communications and freelance feature-writing before taking the plunge into my true lifework—novels.
One of the themes I feel called to explore through writing is differences: being different, feeling different, not wanting to be different, accepting or shunning other people’s differences. For instance, my novel The Blood Lie is based on a real blood libel that happened in my northern New York hometown in 1928. Remember Dippy features a neurodiverse character. The Black Butterfly’s main character is a social outcast with a flighty mother. And Ripped Away probes the realities of being an immigrant.
Some of the honors that my books have garnered include: the American Library Association Best Fiction Books for Young Readers List, Junior Library Guild selection, Simon Wiesenthal Once Upon A World Book Award, Dolly Gray Literature Award from the Council for Exceptional Children, Langum Prize for American Historical Fiction—director’s mention, Sydney Taylor Book Awards—honor book, Los Angeles Unified School District Awards—honor book, and Skipping Stones Award—honor book.
My nonfiction work has appeared in Salon, Cosmopolitan, Highlights, Good Housekeeping, city newspapers, and literary journals.
I currently live in western Massachusetts with my family. Apparently, I have a penchant for chasing after bad weather, first on the Canadian border, then Chicago, and finally New England. When I’m not writing or reading, you can find me fostering dogs for my local animal shelter, biking, or eating ice cream.
Did I mention that I love words?