What inspired you to write Saving Lilly?
I was browsing in the exhibit hall at an American Library Association convention. An animal welfare group had a display with information about various problems, including a pamphlet about the abuse of circus elephants. When I got home, I read the pamphlet and then began researching the facts. I realized well-meaning adults took children to circuses where animals are mistreated without ever knowing that their attendance encouraged cruel practices. As with so many problems, education is the key to a solution.
How long did it take you to write Saving Lilly?
I don’t remember exactly, but most books take me about six months.
What are some of your favorite books from childhood? Were there any specific authors who inspired you?
For several years on each birthday and for Christmas I received one of Johnny Gruelle’s Raggedy Ann books. I still have all of them. I used to play library, and each Raggedy book has a card taped on the inside front cover with a place for the borrower’s name and a due date. The spaces are all blank, as I could not bear to let my beloved books out of my own possession. Later, I loved Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster. I also identified strongly with Jo in Little Women.
Where did you come up with the characters Erin and Mrs. Dawson?
Of all the characters I’ve invented, Erin is most like me. All my life I’ve had situations where my beliefs and feelings were different from those of my peers, and I’ve learned how important it is to stay true to who I am. Erin does that. Mrs. Dawson was complete fiction, but I did want to try to make her more than a mean teacher by showing the reasons for her actions and by having her be willing to change.
If you could befriend a character from any of your books, who would you befriend? Why?
Sunny, in Runaway Twin. Sunny is smart, and she has spunk and compassion despite her unhappy early years which were no fault of her own. At the end of the book, she is beginning her new life with her foster mom, Rita, and with Snickers, the dog. I’d like to give her a hand.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Why?
I’m already living exactly where I choose, in a log house on a ten acre wooded wildlife sanctuary that adjoins hundreds of acres of forest land. I especially love to see the deer bed down outside my windows because I know that means they feel safe here. I feed many varieties of birds, and have natural brush shelters for rabbits and other small creatures. I also do foster care for rescued cats.
What is your favorite animal?
Kids ask me this a lot but I have no answer. Each animal is unique, with special qualities that I appreciate. I like opposums and skunks as much as puppies and kittens. There’s no way I can choose one animal over all the rest.
Where can we purchase your books?
Any book store can order my books if they don’t already stock them. They’re also available from all the on-line sources.
* Keep an eye out for the new audio release for Animals Welcome!