The Stanford Bookstore
Since my books were published, I have enjoyed
reading and speaking about them to all age groups at various venues
including The Stanford Bookstore, Orinda Books, Clayton Books, Borders
Books, A Target Book Celebration at Fairytale Town in Sacramento,
California, A Company of Authors at Stanford University, The Meadows
School in Las Vegas, Nevada and Stanford
Women's Club of the East Bay "Books on Review."
|My blog |
Check out my National Parks blog:
Going Out Is Really Going In
I have always loved to read, and it is still just
about my favorite way to spend free time. Nothing can compare
with settling in to read by the fire (or sitting on the heater vent!)
when it’s cold and wintry outside, or taking a book outside
to read when the weather is fine and you can hear the birds and breathe
the fresh air. I grew up in a small town with no TV (or
computer) in my house and the library just down the street, so I had
lots of friends in books. I hope the people I create in my
books will become your friends, too.
I read because I love books. I write
because I love books. And I hope you will always
love books, too.
is a conversation I had with Jessie Ruffenach, my editor for A
Summer’s Trade at Salina Bookshelf.
You can read it and learn more about me and my childhood.
Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up, and what sort of
activities did you enjoy?
My four children play in the leaves in Red Bluff in
I spent the first 18 years of my life in Red Bluff, a small farming and
ranching community in northern California. The population was well
under 10,000 people, and I liked living in a small town. Simple things
gave great pleasure. I remember jumping over puddles (and into a few)
on the way home from school after it rained, and raking big piles of
leaves in our front yard every autumn to play in when I was younger. My
sister and I skied in the winter in Lassen National Park
to the east, and our whole family hiked its beautiful trails almost
every weekend in the summer. I will always associate my childhood with
trains, as we lived not far from the main north-south railroad track
for the west coast. It was a thrill whenever a freight train came
through town with snow piled on top of all its boxcars. I always
wondered where that snow came from and how far south the train could go
before it all melted. |
Lassen Peak from Kings Creek Meadows
in Lassen Volcanic National Park
What childhood experiences shaped your desire to be a writer?
In the opposite direction from the railroad tracks was the Tehama
County Library, about five blocks from our house. I spent lots of
summer evenings there, riding my bike from home, running up the steps
into the old musty-smelling building to browse among the stacks, and
returning home with a basket full of books to be savored over the next
week. Because I lived in a small town where there wasn't a lot going
on, many of my experiences came out of reading books, and to this day I
consider books to be like friends. My mother and father both read aloud
to me and my siblings, and my father continued to do so until I left
home for college. There was no TV in our house to be a distraction from
the enjoyment of books.
| | Samples of Southwest pottery and turquoise
Tell us how the idea for A Summer’s Trade
I read an article about turquoise in the Smithsonian Magazine,
and was intrigued by the discussion of the pawn counter at a trading
post in Gallup
and all of the turquoise jewelry that was locked away in the vault. The
article also talked about the Navajo belief in turquoise as a talisman
to wear for luck and protection against contagious diseases. My
imagination took over from there.
You have lived in the San Francisco Bay area your entire adult life,
yet A Summer's Trade is set in Gallup,
and the Navajo Reservation.
Why is that?
I visited Arizona
and New Mexico
numerous times as a child with my family and have spent additional time
there as an adult with my husband and children. I feel drawn to the
Southwest's beauty, natural history, and culture. I felt that with a
little bit of additional research I could set a story there, and having
done so, I feel even more connected to the area.
You published another book with Clarion Books. Tell us about that story.
That picture book is called How Do You Know?
It’s the story of Polly, a little girl who wakes up one
morning to find that the world outside has disappeared in fog. She is
worried about whether all the familiar things in her life (her swing,
the duck pond, the barn with the horses inside) are still there when
she can't see them anymore. A walk around their farm in the fog with
her mother reassures her. By bedtime, Polly has fully realized that, as
her mother says over and over in the story, you know some things
because you just do.
| | My cat Bonita
What do you hope readers will take away from your books?
The pleasure of having experienced a good story with beautiful
illustrations that is worth coming back to read again and again.
Besides writing, what other careers have you pursued?
After graduating from college, I served for three years as the
Assistant Registrar at Stanford Law School
where I met my husband. Then I went to law school myself, receiving my
degree from the University of Santa Clara Law School, and practicing in
until after the birth of the first of our four children. Motherhood
became my full-time job, and sometime after the birth of our fourth
child, I found a little time to begin writing.
Do you have any other manuscripts that you're currently working on?
What plans do you have for the future?
I am always working on story ideas in my head, and I hope to continue
writing and having my books published and enjoyed by many. I also hope
to make another visit to the Southwest before too long.
Any other thoughts you'd like to share?
Time spent reading to children is always time well spent.