Q and A

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
My favorite thing to do is spend time with my two daughters Isabel and Faye. We all like to be active outside and enjoy hiking, biking, kayaking, and cross country skiing, depending on the season. I also enjoy spending time with friends, and traveling. Cooking is another passion, and I especially like to combine the two and explore new places and cultures through their food.

What is your writing process?
For me, the creative process is all about discovery. When I sit down to write, I usually don't know exactly where I'm going to end up. Sometimes I'll go down a path that doesn't work and I'll eventually edit that part out, but most of the time if I trust the process, the real story will just reveal itself. I love those breakthrough moments when I learn something about a character or myself (if I'm writing nonfiction) that gives me clarity so I can see where I've been heading the whole time.

Describe your desk.
My desk is a mix of messy piles and scraps of notes, with an orderly arrangement of photos and accessories in the background. I guess this combination does reflect how my mind works because my creative process can be kind of messy, but I like to have some sense of order controlling it all, or at least appearing to. Two of my favorite things on my desk are a pair of clay pinch pots my daughters made when they were little which now hold an assortment of paper clips, seashells, coins, stones, and some marbles that were from my own childhood.

When did you first start writing?
I've been writing for as long as I can remember. I was always writing stories and poems as a child, and would give these to my parents as gifts on their birthdays or holidays. As a teenager, I would write as a way to help myself figure things out (those journal entries are now especially entertaining to look back on!). Even during the busiest times in my life, I've always made time for writing. It's a big part of who I am.

What inspired you to write Miming in French?
Several years ago I was living in Aix-en-Provence, France, with my family, and my two daughters attended a local public elementary school there. They didn't speak any French at first, which was challenging, but overall the experience was really rewarding for both of them, even life-changing. In Miming in French, the characters and plot are fictional, but the culture of Aix and the mix of people living there got me thinking and imagining about what might happen if an American girl befriended a French Muslim girl. I'm an avid Francophile and have loved the times I've lived in France, but the country struggles with social issues just like anywhere else and I wanted to explore some of those themes in this novel. As for the mime, I was inspired by the fascinating performers found on the streets of Aix. Even though the novel is written for children ages nine to twelve, I hope readers of all ages will find it interesting and engaging.