In a Nutshell
was born and grew up in Winnipeg. In my twenties, I traveled
around the world, mostly by ship, working in England and Australia.
Then I moved to Vancouver, where I earned a B.A. and an M.Ed. at the
University of British Columbia. Vancouver is really beautiful.
I still live here, a five-minute walk from the ocean. I'm an
ex-college teacher, an ex-editor, an ex-travel agent and . . .
Now I'm the author of more than thirty-five books
for kids. Best known perhaps are my picture books about a dog called
Stanley (Stanley's Party and others, illustrated by Bill Slavin).
Many of my books have now travelled around the world
just like me.
As a Child
I was a reader and a daydreamer. Thank goodness for that. Reading
and daydreaming are fabulous preparation for becoming a writer.
But of course, that's not all I did. There were
a lot of kids in my neighbourhood a lot! and we tore
around in gangs, playing cops-and-robbers and cowboys-and-cowgirls
and wrecking the flower beds. Always, always, my favourite games
were the ones that start with "Let's pretend." (Pretending is
the other thing that's excellent preparation for writers.)
Becoming a Writer
I snuck up on it! For many years, I was scared of writing. I
was afraid to try in case I was awful. So I did other "booky" things
instead. I taught literacy classes. I edited educational
Then I had two daughters. They loved stories!
I loved to read! It was perfect! We tore through
hundreds of kids' books. Slowly I began to find the courage
to write my own. The first to be published was a mystery novel
called How Come the Best Clues Are Always in the Garbage? It
led to . . .
The Thrilling Life of a Writer
actually . . . no. You would not want to watch me work.
I write in my notebook. I stare into space. I type
on my computer. I stare. I type. I write. I
But in another way, it is thrilling. Inside
my head, dogs are having parties. Chickens are playing hockey.
Detectives hang precariously from fire escapes. My inner
life is extremely exciting! On the outside? Not so much.
Travels & Adventures
I often write about characters who go on journeys
and have adventures. Maybe it's because many of my most
powerful memories are of times when I've been in some far-away
place, experiencing something extraordinary.
Examples? Once I traveled by ship through
a hurricane on the North Atlantic terrifying, but unforgettable.
Another time, I spent the night in a haunted castle in Ireland,
just me and an extremely nervous friend. Later I rode
wild horses in the Australian Outback. (They're called
brumbies there.) Also in Australia, I camped on the banks of
the East Alligator River. No alligators visited my tent,
but a water buffalo came by at 3:00 a.m., and I'm not kidding
he sounded exactly like an alligator!
I'm wildly proud of my two wonderful daughters,
all grown up. They share my love of books and faraway places.
Lia is an amazing flamenco dancer and a talented freelance journalist.
Tess is a Doctor of Biology who hangs around with spirit bears and
fruit flies (and sometimes even camels).
And speaking of wild animals. . .
My Amazing Dog Who Was
Sophie was the amazing dog who inspired all the Stanley books. She
was around for 13 hilarious years, and she made me laugh almost every
day. Basically, she was a clown in a dogís body.
Dogs donít live as long as people, and thatís
sad. But Iím lucky to have known a dog like Sophie for all those years,
and I will always be grateful that she let me write about her.
Favourite Things to Do
Read. Write stories. Travel. Eat. (Not necessarily in that order.)
Sometimes I can do several of these things at once.
Traveling and eating, for instance. Hereís me in a cooking class in
Florence. We made pasta from scratch. It was SO worth the effort!