lots! You can see the complete list on my Resumé page.
went to Williamsburg, Virginia, to collect the Beacon of Freedom Award for my
book, Miracle, the True Story of the
Wreck of the Sea Venture, a very special honor because kids in Williamsburg
selected the winner. In this picture, a student is presenting my plaque at the
My picture book, Water Beds; Sleeping in the Ocean, received the first “honorary chair” at the Delray Beach Public Library in Florida! The symbol of this coastal city is a white adirondack chair, and the
children’s library is full of child-sized adirondack chairs, each
decorated with scenes from a children’s book.
_Who is the most famous person you've met in your travels as an author?
President Jimmy Carter! In 2004, I was autographing
books at the Carter Center, and Jimmy Carter came and shook hands with me. What
Do you have a pet? Do you own a Newfoundland dog?
I have a cat named Carmen. She is the friendliest cat on the planet. We call her the neighborhood greeter.
don’t have a Newfoundland dog. In this photo, I’m hugging Prissy, a beautiful Newfy who
belongs to my friends, Beverly and John Cusac. (On the last page of Seaman,
the Dog Who Explored the West with Lewis and Clark, I’m pictured with
both of the Cusac Newfoundlands.) I met the Cusacs when I was researching the
Do you have children?
_ Yes, I have two daughters, Leslie and Geneva.
Geneva (at left in black tee) works as a Conservationist. Leslie (at right in brown top) is a Psychologist. Both of them live in San Diego in their own homes, but we love to visit each other.
(Yes, they do read my stories and give me suggestions about how to improve them.)
In the photo, that’s Lucas (Leslie’s husband) holding baby Clementine. Notice that her feet are blurry, because she’s practicing her kick, kick, kick! The other fellow is Andy, Geneva’s husband.
What does your husband do?
husband, Chester, was a Neuroscientist at the University of Georgia. Now he is
a full-time “rockhound”! He loves to hunt for crystals for his collection.
he reads my stories and gives lots of suggestions about how to make them
How old were you when you started to write?
first book (The Tree that Owns Itself and Other Adventure Tales from Georgia's Past)
was published while I was teaching - in 1996. But it wasn’t my first
attempt at writing. When I was a student, I wrote stories, journals, poems, and
reports. I loved writing, and
I loved reading. (Still do!)
Why do you write?
are lots of reasons, some silly and some serious:
- I write because that's what a writer does! It's my job.
I write because I like to be the boss. When I create a story, I decide what's
going to happen, where my characters go, and how they talk.
- I write because it’s fun and satisfying. Like most people, I enjoy sharing my
feelings, thoughts, and opinions.
- I write to reach out. Sometimes, my stories connect me with people who live
far away and I would never get to meet them face-to-face.
- I write to learn ... about the world and about myself. When I research my
books, I learn about all kinds of stuff. When I make up characters, I explore
my own reactions to events and problems.
- I write because I want to make a difference - to leave the world a better
place. That's why I write for young readers: A story can shape the way a child
sees the world. My mom died when I was 11 years old, and her death was terribly
painful for me. As I write, I try to show young readers that they can solve
problems, heal after painful events, and create a satisfying future for
Why do you write about history?
never liked History when I was a kid! So, when I was assigned to teach my first
social studies class, I was in a dilemma: How was I going to teach about
something that I didn't enjoy?
I began reading and thinking about History. That’s when I realized that history
is actually a collection of stories about ordinary people who lived during
extraordinary times and rose to the challenge … they became heroes and
I love stories, so it was
easy to get excited about teaching history as soon as I thought of it as a
bunch of stories.
Why are there different covers for Seaman, the Dog Who Explored the West with Lewis and Clark?
book has been very popular - more than 70,000 copies are in print! In
honor of the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, it was released
with a new cover that features the big, beautiful head of a Newfoundland dog.
The story and inside illustrations are the same, but the new edition also contains
additional front and back matter.
Is it true that kids decided on the title of Surviving Jamestown: The Adventures of Young Sam Collier?
After tossing around some title ideas, my editor suggested "The Jamestown
Venture," but I preferred “Surviving Jamestown.”
showed both titles to the kids in Mrs. Joyce Henson's PACE classes at Malcom
Bridge Elementary School in Oconee County, Georgia. The kids voted for
“Surviving Jamestown.” After they explained their reasons in persuasive
paragraphs, my editor agreed.