How long have you been writing?
I started writing in 1980, and my first book, Dusty, was published in 1983. I can still remember the day I held the first copy of Dusty in my hands. The mail carrier handed me a package as I was leaving the house. Sitting on the front steps, I tore it open and turned the pages, saying, "I wrote this! I wrote this!" [Top]
Did you always want to be a writer?
No! I wanted to be a dancer, and if I had been talented enough at dancing, I might never have started writing. But I did always love to read and now that I look back I can see where the seeds of writing were planted. As a child, I used to make my parents birthday cards with made-up poems (not very good!) and I used to write funny little stories, which I illustrated with stick figures. [Top]
Where do you get your ideas?
I wish I knew! Thatís the fun part of writingóideas just come. Often they come when Iím walking my dog, Fang, in the park near our house. Sometimes they come during that not-quite-awake time when I am waking up or falling asleep. Ideas always start with a character in a situation. I ask myself, Why is he or she in that situation? What problem does he or she have? Then the hard work startsófiguring out the rest of the story. [Top]
How long does it take to write a story?
That depends. For a medium-sized novel like the Starshine books, the first draft takes a month or six weeks. Then I do many more drafts. All together, it comes to about six months. For a picture book like Mr. Belinskyís Bagels, the first draft may take only a few hours, but all the rewrites add up to several weeks.[Top]
Why do you write for children instead of for adults?
I love to feel things as a child would, and I can remember what it felt like to be excited and scared and proud and angry as a young person. And I love the magic and silliness you can put in a childrenís book. Adult books are too serious! [Top]
Why donít you illustrate your own books?
Because Iím a terrible artist! All I can draw is stick figures. If I drew my own pictures, no one would buy my books because they would look so terrible. Iím lucky to have wonderful artists illustrating my books. [Top]
Lots of your books have Jewish characters and themes. Why is that?
Because Iím Jewish, for one thing. And also because, as a child, I was very close to my grandparents and being Jewish was a big part of my life. Now, when I think of characters and stories, I think of things that are close to my heart, and a feeling of Jewishness just pops out. [Top]
Have you ever had stories rejected by publishers?
Lots of timesóespecially when I was starting out. If you want to be a writer, you have to have a "thick skin" and learn not to take rejections personally. You have to have faith in yourself and keep writing. [Top]
Where can I get your books?
Go to the To Order page of my website. [Top]