I grew up in Juneau, Alaska, in a house filled with music and books. When I left high school, I attended Antioch College, traveled and worked around the country, studied at colleges in San Diego, lived in Greece, and ultimately settled back in Juneau. My husband, Jim Fowler, is a landscape painter and book illustrator (seven of my books plus seven others). We have two grown daughters, two grandchildren, and a large, floppy dog.
When I was young, Juneau was a small town of a few thousand people. It's grown more than five times over--it's now a "booming metropolis" of somewhere around 32,000 people--but there is still a creek with spawning salmon just a few blocks from our home and I can't recall a summer without porcupines and black bears wandering our downtown neighborhoods. Neighbors post post warnings to get the kids in when a bear is spied nearby. And although our home appraisal says "no view," we are surrounded by mountains from which we watch mountain goats in the spring, herons in their nests across the street, and eagles wheeling overhead year round. Sure seems like a view to me. This is a good home place and I loved growing up here and coming back as an adult, marrying and raising two amazing daughters in the home my husband and I live in still. My daughter and two grandchildren live next door in my father's old house and 5 households of our family within four or five short blocks of each other (along with the assorted visiting bears and porcupines).
While my writing isn't autobiographical (with the exception of my essays for adults), there are elements of my life in all my stories. Of my now nine children's books, only the newest one, ARCTIC AESOP'S FABLES: TWELVE RETOLD TALES (February 2013) and CIRCLE OF THANKS (on the Bank Street "Best of the Best" List - Outstanding Books from 1997-2008) are set in the north. But although my other books aren't necessarily Alaska stories, I feel as if Alaska, the sense of community here, the connection to the natural world, the rhythm of the seasons and the pace of life, seeps into everything I write.
When I wrote ARCTIC AESOP'S FABLES: Twelve Retold Tales, I had to double check what I knew about the habitat and habits of animals that live in the Arctic. I've spent time in the Arctic, but the Alaska land and life I know best is the coastal panhandle of southeast Alaska where the environment is very different than the Arctic and even many of the animals are different. Fables are obviously not intended to be "true," but I wanted the animals I chose for my retellings to make sense. My husband Jim, a landscape painter and the illustrator of fourteen children's books, counting our new ARCTIC AESOP'S FABLES, is more of a naturalist than I and he helped me out as did current and former staff of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The wonderful WILDLIFE NOTEBOOK SERIES published by the department plus several on-line sources were helpful, too. I am grateful to them all.
I enjoy talking with kids and adults about writing and about Alaska and am available for school or library visits.