1.When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’m not sure there was a moment where I realized that I wanted to be a writer… but there were definitely a few turning points in my life where it was it was clear that I was on that path.
Point 1: I was in Fifth Grade. Cyndi Lauper was blasting at a birthday party. It was time to reach into one of those mysterious grab bags and pull out a present. I was lucky. I was one of the first to pick. I reached deep down and pulled out… a journal. (Which I began using right away.)
Point 2: I was in 7th grade. Obsessed with Anne of Green Gables. (Note, also a writer.) And I was so unlucky. I never won anything. Until we were sitting at a school assembly, and they were doing a drawing for prizes. The principal pulled 3 names from the whole school. My name was called second. And I screamed, “I never win anything!” (Exact quote.) I walked up to the podium and they handed me, I kid you not… a pen and pencil set.
Point 3: I was 27. I noticed piles of journals, music, poems, lyrics and slips of paper with words, WoRdS, WORDS everywhere. I’d been writing, collecting and keeping track of words for most of my life. And that’s when I got to work. Serious work.
I’m not sure if I ever wanted to be a writer. I just was one.
2. How did you come up with the idea for Ready, Set, Sail!?
My dad was a sailor. He studied Navigation at the New York State Maritime College, but prior to that he studied wind, water, anchoring and adventuring with his brothers and sisters near Fire Island. He passed his love of salt water and sailing along to me and my siblings, and some of my best memories with my cousins were those aboard a sailboat on the Peconic Bay.
I recently moved from Chicago to San Francisco where I spend a lot of time writing at the Ferry Building. There’s nothing I love to watch more than white sails on blue water. Once the idea struck, I couldn’t shake it. I had to write a sailing book! Something catchy and informative with a large slice of adventure!
3. What’s your favorite part of Ready, Set, Sail!?
Luke Flowers did an INCREDIBLE job illustrating this book. I remember the first time I saw sketches and I kept saying, “No way… no way… NO WAY!!” So it’s tough for me to pick a favorite page, because there are so many fun, and also beautiful moments. But if I had to pick, I’d say, my favorite part is when the boom swings at the page-turn and Turtle… well… I’m not gonna say, because I don’t want to spoil anything! But Luke totally illustrated what I felt as a kid when the boom would come swinging over my head.
4. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I drive around. (You didn’t ask what my favorite extra-curricular activity is, so I’m going for real here.) I have three kids. They are all in High School and Middle School and, like me, they all have their own pursuits. So, I drive them places. (Or… I sit in the passenger seat and I teach them to drive places.) Also, I teach voice lessons. I’m a singer… so I also do that.
5. What was your favorite book to read as child?
Just one? (You can’t make me pick just one!) I loved Morris and Boris, Amelia Bedelia and George and Martha… because they made me laugh, and to this day, I still love laughing. And I loved the end papers in Blueberries for Sal… I spent a lot of time looking at those—the way Sal played with the canning lids set me wondering. I also spent a lot of time with good ol’ Mother Goose. I loved memorizing rhymes. My hero, though, is Anne Shirley. She loved words, she used them even if she didn’t quite understand them, and she was so perfectly flawed.
And somehow, all of this informs my writing. Every day.