I grew up in a small town in northern Indiana much like Lake Haven, the fictional town in my middle grade novel, TALL TALES. In the stories I wrote when I was younger, I often had my characters live in cities or other parts of the country. But as I got older I began to realize that I needed to set my novels in places that I knew. And I know all about cornfields and Lake Michigan.
Like most writers, I've been writing since I was really young. I wrote my first short story in fourth grade and my first novel at age 16. I studied journalism in college, and when I graduated I moved to the East coast and wrote for newspapers and magazines. I wrote articles about health and fitness and the local zoo and anything else you can imagine. I did the last interview with tennis great Arthur Ashe before he died. I traveled and met lots of interesting people, but I still wanted to write fiction.
So I got down to writing full time in 1999 and over the next twelve years published three middle grade novels, TALL TALES, NO CREAM PUFFS and A MILLION MILES FROM BOSTON, all with Wendy Lamb at Random House. Writing for kids is a wonderful job. I also love visiting classrooms and connecting with young readers. I have several more middle grade novels in the hopper.
However, in the last few years I have felt my writing begin to change. I am increasingly interested in complex family and relational issues. I think a lot about adult characters and situations. As a result, I am turning my attention to writing for adults. With a completed novel, SOMEBODY I USED TO KNOW, and another one brewing, I see this new venture as an extension of my interests, not a replacement.
Writers, like others in creative fields, have to change and grow or they become stagnant. I wake up every day, excited about this new direction and happy to be writing. And for me, nothing is better.