“We could never have loved the earth so well if we had had no childhood in it . . .”
– George Eliot, Mill on the Floss
AS A KID
I was raised in a small, farm town in Ohio. It was a funny kind of place where farmers came every Saturday morning to sit on the town green and chew tobacco while their wives did the weekly shopping. It is also the home of the first concrete street in America. When I was about ten, the town celebrated its centennial with a beauty pageant. The winner was crowned “Miss Concrete Street”. The neighbouring town elected “Miss Gourd”! Even as a child, I thought that was funny. I’ve recently read that Ohio and Iowa still elect a Miss Pork. Hooray!
AS AN ADULT
I have worked as a singer in Mexico, an English teacher in Libya, a cucumber-washer in Greece, and a popsicle-stick-maker in Israel. I wanted to be an opera singer, too – one of those huge ones who make the chandeliers shake and windows rattle – so I studied classical voice at a conservatory. There was only one teeny problem: I wasn’t very good. Well, that’s how it goes. The good news is that I now write for kids. I am very happily married and have one son who is now an adult and about whom I’m absolutely crazy. My wife — I’m crazy about her, too — and I live in New Hampshire in that old colonial house in the picture. It’s not nearly as spooky as it looks.
AS A WRITER
I feel humble about writing for young people. I take it very seriously, which is an odd thing since many of my books are funny. But to me, humour is a serious business. I also believe in the power of the imagination to transport and change us. In a way, I guess, most of my books are about those two things, humour and the imagination. Recently, I’ve been writing a lot of poetry. I love the challenge of fitting language into a little box that has both meaning and beauty.