I have two kinds of sleepers in me: 1) the one who sleeps soundly from the moment my head hits the pillow until morning and 2) the restless non-sleeper (usually hormone induced) who keeps an ear open for the cat, Apollo, meowing at the door; who hears one of our three dogs—Kito, Sam, or Mattie—every time they get up to lap at the water bowl, which I imagine must be getting low and so I climb from under my covers to go check; the sleeper whose mind starts whipping through a “rolodex of worries” or possible story ideas (I have a one-word mantra I use to stop the whirring and it’s SLEEP); and the sleeper with restless legs syndrome, which feels exactly like worms crawling in my legs until I move them around, or as I’ve discovered, get up and do ten minutes of stretching. Sleeper #2 needs three cups of strong coffee to get going in the morning.
What is your proudest career moment?
Oh, there have been many moving, humbling, amazing experiences with fans. But just recently, at an elementary school in Duluth, Minnesota I had another. I’d picked kids to come up and help act out One-Dog Canoe in front of the audience with a laminated red paper canoe and puppets. As we neared the end of the skit, one boy who hadn’t been selected, barreled up unexpectedly, seized the microphone from my hand, and shouted into it “Can I come, too?!!!” I was surprised, but before I knew it he ran off as an adult made a dash for him. Turned out, he was a boy with autism who rarely tuned in to what was going on around him. But from the back of the auditorium, he’d become fully engaged in the story and skit and wanted to be part of it. As the teacher said, “You connected with him and he was right there with you!”
Describe your most favorite pair of pajamas ever.
Two years ago I ordered pajamas for myself for Christmas from BedHead. Pricey. More than the cheap pj’s I had always settled for. The red, gray, and light blue paisley pattern has faded (they were pretty wild at first), but from the start, they’ve been soft and comfy and welcoming. Pajamas should say “Ahhh.” These do.
In what Olympic sport would you like to win a gold medal?
Because I love horses (we own three: Sable, Ginger, and Midnight,) I’d definitely do an equine event. And if I knew I’d win gold and not break my neck, I’d go for three-day eventing, which involves cross-country jumping, dressage, and stadium jumping. Short of that, I’ll have to settle for occasional 3‑day horse-camping trips, trail-riding, and riding at a friend’s indoor arena, just a few miles down the road.
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
The bravest thing? I wrote a first novel and finished the draft. And second, once published, I braved my deep and profound fear of speaking. Only by speaking countless times, over and over and over, did I gradually overcome the clenched stomach, visible shaking, and sense of impending death. I told myself, “Do this for your books. It won’t kill you, even if it feels like it will.” And now, to my utter amazement, the fear is 99% gone and I enjoy sharing with audiences. I never thought that would be possible.
What’s the first book you remember reading?
I remember Dick and Jane books in 1st grade and thought they were incredibly dull and boring stories. If this was “reading,” I wasn’t impressed. It took Charlotte’s Web, perhaps in 3rd or 4th grade, to change my attitude toward books.