Tell us a bit about you…
I’m the author of close to 30 books for young readers, including the multi-award-winning novels 101 Ways to Bug Your Parents and 101 Ways to Bug Your Teacher. I’m also former teacher…a current mother (I have one son; he’s 15)…I speak fluent ‘Cat’ (I have three)…and I’m in constant pursuit of the perfect chocolate-chip cookie recipe.
What inspired you to write 101 Ways to Bug Your Friends and Enemies?
The short answer: My fans told me to!
The long answer: my all-time favorite play is Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. It’s got everything: War, mystery, humor, heroes, villains, romance, suspense, sword fights, philosophy, poetry, pastries – you name it, it’s in there! I’d always wanted to write a modern-day version of this story, and This. Is. It.
What is "101 Ways to Bug Your Friends and Enemies" about?
How first love can change your friendships – and your life. It’s also about Sneeze Wyatt, a 13-year-old whiz-kid-nerd inventor, who falls head-over-heels in love with his best friend, Hayley, who has fallen head-over-heels for someone else who has not fallen head-over-heels for her. In fact, he doesn’t even know she’s alive. To save Hayley from the wrenching pain of unrequited love, Sneeze pretends to be the Other Guy, writing her astounding love letters from ‘him’ via email. And yes, humorous and heart-squishing chaos ensues…
What do you hope children learn from your book?
First and foremost, I write to entertain – both myself and my readers. So my greatest hope for my fans is that while reading this book they laugh so hard they squirt milk out their noses! (Provided, of course, they’re drinking milk at the time; otherwise, milk-out-the-nose might signal a more serious symptom that requires the immediate services of a doctor. Or a farmer.)
Beneath the obvious humor, however, there is a lot here for my readers to ‘get’, such as:
1. People aren’t mind readers. You won’t know if the person you like likes you back unless you tell that person how you feel.
2. Yes, confessing your feelings does involve risk. The object of your affection might laugh you out of the school or throw up on your shoes.
3. But this risk is worth it. Great achievement and great love always are. (And you can always buy new shoes.)
4. Just because one person doesn’t love you, does NOT mean you are unlovable.
Are you planning to write any new books in the future? Can you give us a sneak peek?
I’m revising a sequel to my picture book Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku (Holt). I’m also making notes for the fourth and final novel in the 101 Ways series: 101 Ways to Bug Your Brother and Sister. For years, my fans have been sharing with me the creative ways their siblings have bugged them. A few favorites:
1. Touch her with bologna.
2. Sneak icky food off your plate and slip it onto his plate.
3. On long car trips, fall asleep leaning against her. Extra points if you’re hot and sweaty.
4. If you’re a girl, put your underwear in his underwear drawer. If you’re a boy, do the opposite!
5. Rip all the heads off her Barbie dolls. (My brothers used to do this to me!)
6. When his friend come over to your house, follow them around everywhere.
7. When she and her friends are sunbathing, squirt them with your water cannon.
8. Poise your finger 1/8 of an inch from her and repeat: ‘I’m not touching you! I’m not touching you!’
9. Hog the TV remote. Then ‘lose’ it.
10. Every time she says: ‘Guess what?’, shout: ‘Chicken butt!’
What do you do in your spare time when you’re not writing?
I love beach combing for sea glass. I read. (A lot!) I snoop in antique stores for old Hawaiian hula dolls. (I have a collection; one doll dates back to 1900.) I read. I get together with friends. Then I read. I play with my cats. I swim. Oh, and I read, too! (And my most favorite thing to do in my free time is…write!)
Who was your favorite author when you were young?
There were so many authors! I loved Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. In second grade, I wrote a book report for that title every week for about two months – until my teacher finally demanded I pick a different book. I also loved Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. Oh, and Helen Keller’s Teacher by Margaret Davidson and The Secret Language by Ursula Nordstrom. I read those books over and over and over again. Same with the Winnie-the-Pooh books by A.A. Milne, which I found absolutely hysterical. Such wry and clever wit!
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Read as much as you can. Write as much as you can. Every day. Repeat.
Describe yourself with 5 words.
Exuberant. Secretive. Storyteller. Funny. Calliope. (Okay, okay. I know the last word isn’t a descriptive, but it’s one of my favorite nouns because I adore the sound of it: kah-LIE-uh-pee, kah-LIE-uh-pee. In ancient Greece, Kalliope was the muse of heroic poetry.)
How did you get interested in writing children's books?
I don’t really think of myself as a writer of ‘children’s books’. I have stories to tell, and those stories just happen to be about children and tweens and teens. I got interested in writing, though, as soon as I became a reader. The first book I could read all by myself was P.D. Eastman’s Go, Dog, Go. Wow. I was woozy with pride! I mean, what an accomplishment to read that book over and over and over read again to my little brother, Scott! (And he didn’t even like dogs!) I couldn’t imagine a better feeling than that, except maybe writing a book all by myself. So, at age seven, I gave it a try. I’ve been writing ever since. (P.S. The first book my son could read all by himself was also Go, Dog, Go!)
Where can people buy your books?
First, check your local independent bookstore, either in person or online at: http://www.indiebound.org/indie-store-finder
If they don’t have my books in stock, ask them to order them! They’ll be glad to! You may also find my books at http://www.blogger.com/goog_602615756 or http://www.b&n.com/
Do you have a web page or fan page?
Anything else you would like to share?
1. I like iced tea with lemon and mint and Splenda.
2. When I do school visits, there is always one fan who comes up to me and says: “Hey, you’re a girl! I thought you were a guy!” (Because my first name is Lee.)
3. Dr. Maria Montessori is one of my heroes.
4. I went back to college at the age of 53 to get my master’s degree in Education.
5. If you want to learn 101 Ways to Bug an Author (aka ME!), visit:
6. The first person to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me that I do NOT look like a woman in her 50’s, will receive a free, autographed, paperback copy of 101 Ways to Bug Your Friends and Enemies.
7. Oh, and thanks for interviewing me!
Visit Wild About Reading for a chance to win a copy.
Visit Wild About Reading for a chance to win a copy.