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My Life

Here I am in my home office. Can you tell from my clothes what time of year it is, and how much I save on my heating bill? I'm holding C.S. Lewis: The Man Behind Narnia. On the walls are pictures I used for writing another biography, Julius Caesar.Photo credit: Peggy Aulisio and Westport Shorelines

California beginning

Have you ever wondered how someone becomes a writer? I used to wonder that, too, ever since I decided (at age nine) to become a writer myself. But it took me a long time to figure out how to make my dream come true.
I grew up in Southern California, graduated from Pomona College, and then went to work for a book publisher. That's how I met my husband, Robert Gormley - he was an editor working for the same company. We had two children, Katie and Jenny, and then we all moved from California to Massachusetts.

My first book

Soon afterward, I started to give serious time to my own writing. I was thrilled to have some articles and essays and book reviews published, but still my stories were always rejected. Then, when my children were nine and seven, I tried writing a book for children. Bingo - at last I was writing the kind of stories that made me want to become a writer, back when I was nine! A year or so later my first book, Mail-Order Wings, was published.

Stars and cats, aliens and history

Ever since, I've written about things that matter to me. For instance, my fascination with flying sparked my first book, Mail-Order Wings, as well as my biography of Amelia Earhart. My interest in astronomy led me to write a biography of Maria Mitchell, America's first woman astronomer. My love of history, and my fondness for the idea of time travel, led me to write Back to the Titanic! and Back to Paul Revere! and Back to the Day Lincoln Was Shot!

I also love the places I've lived. My first novels were set in a town in Massachusetts like Duxbury, where I lived at the time. Then I moved to a town on the Hudson River, in New York, and my stories took place there.

Now I live in a beautiful town in Massachusetts again. But as I write a biography or a historical novel, I feel like I'm living in that very different time and place: Julius Caesar's ancient Rome, Miriam's ancient Egypt, or Laura Ingalls Wilder's Midwestern prairie.

Other interests of mine: cats and dogs and birds, long hikes, friends, aliens from outer space, and people who struggle to achieve their dreams. You'll find them all in my books.