I was born in New York City and after years of living in the Bronx and Queens, my family made the migration to the “promised land,” Long Island. I was a talker as a kid and my mother, a teacher, was always pushing me to excel in school. During summer vacations, she would use flash cards to drill me in spelling and math. Even then I felt the pressure.
I always enjoyed playing with words and started writing silly stories and poems back in elementary school. I was a fan of Superman and Archie comics and took piles of them wherever I went. My favorite books were Nancy Drew mysteries, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Marjorie Morningstar and Wuthering Heights (I still love that Emily Bronte classic!).
After high school, I went to Northwestern University outside Chicago. I had planned to major in French, but then I discovered political science, and then I fell in love with art history, and then it was Russian literature, and then. . . There were just too many interesting subjects! I finally decided to major in journalism, which I realized would give me the opportunity to write and explore many different areas.
While in college, I met a guy who wore colorful African shirts and was always in the library. Well, I married that guy and after my graduation we spent 2-1/2 years in Kano, Nigeria, where he did academic research and I taught English. We lived in a cement block house in the middle of the “old city” and for a time were the only non-Africans in the neighborhood. That experience in West Africa had a big impact on my life: it gave me an appreciation for different cultures, shaped my view of the world and infected me with the travel bug.
After our return to the U.S., my journalism training, my curiosity and my desire to continually learn new things served me well. I spent more than 30 years writing for newspapers, magazines and other media, covering everything from dogs suing airlines to nuclear accidents. I worked as a reporter and editor for the Gannett Rochester Newspapers; as a freelance writer, I contributed to such publications as Ladies’ Home Journal, McCall’s and the Harvard Health Letter. I also taught journalism to college students, served as the managing editor of a health policy journal and raised two sons and a pesky border terrier.
Today, my storytelling focuses on younger readers. Along with creative picture books, I’ve been exploring the lives of figures from the past – particularly women, like the suffrage cartoonist Nina Allender – who did extraordinary things but have been overlooked by history books. I love to share stories about these little known “heroes” with children. When I’m not working on new ideas at my home in Rochester, you may find me reading, swimming laps in a pool, walking in the woods, off on some exotic adventure or sipping Finger Lakes wine at my cottage on New York’s Keuka Lake with my husband Alan, a retired economics professor.