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Mermaid nightlight
  Where did you grow up?
  I grew up in a small town called Luck, Wisconsin. Actually, I grew up “out of Luck”… about a mile and a half away!
  Do you still live there?
  No, but I do still live in Wisconsin.
  Did you always want to be a writer?
  Not exactly. When I was in grade school, I wanted to be an artist. I loved to draw. In high school, the artist, Norman Rockwell, was my idol! It wasn’t until I was in college that I really started to write. Along with my sketchbook, I also kept a journal and wrote lots of poems. It was then that I discovered I could make pictures with words. I’ve been “drawing stories” ever since.
  Do you still like to draw pictures in the usual way?
Yes! Here is a dragon I drew for my son.
Oh, so you have a son? Do you have any other kids?
Yes, I have a daughter named Micah. My son’s name is Eli. They are both grown up now.
What about pets?
No pets, at the moment. My son used to have geckos. My favorite was an albino one he named Ghost. Maybe I’ll include Ghost in a story someday.
Where do you get your ideas?
From the same place you do: everywhere! Ideas are all around us. All we have to do is be on the lookout for them. For example, the idea for one of my books came from a spooky mermaid nightlight. One day I asked myself, “What if my main character found a spooky mermaid nightlight? What would she do with it? What would happen next?” So, I began to write a story that came from that seed of an idea. You can see the mermaid nighlight on the cover of My New Best Friend. Here she is in real life. Spooky, huh?
What do you do in your spare time?
In the fall, I like to go for long walks. Often, I’ll get story ideas while I’m walking. In the winter, I like to snowshoe. In the spring and summer, I putter around in my flower garden. All year I love to read books, play guitar in a band at my church, and hang out with friends in real life and on Facebook!
Where do you write?
I do most of my writing at home in a quiet corner of my basement where I have a computer on my desk and lots of photos tacked to the walls. I also like to write by hand in a journal. Not a fancy journal with a lock and key, but just a plain notebook. I buy them during school shopping season! Here is a photo of my desk. I cleaned it up a little for you. (Okay, a lot.)
When do you write?
My favorite time to write is in the morning when my brain is fresh and the coffee is hot! But I’m always thinking about my story throughout the day. I cut up my old manuscripts and use them for notepaper. I jot down ideas and bits of dialogue, wherever I may be (at the grocery store, in a coffee shop, waiting at a stoplight, standing in line at McDonalds….) Then, later, I take all those scraps of ideas and conversations back to my computer and add them to the story.
What are some of your favorite books?
I have lots of favorites. Here are a few that come to mind today:

Wringer by Jerry Spinelli
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Alvin Ho books by Lenore Look
Ramona books by Beverly Cleary
Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt
Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus
Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
Judy Moody books by Megan McDonald

What about your favorite pizza?
Vege! No mushrooms, please.
Dragon by Julie Bowe
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