We live in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota so we happily embrace the lakes and parks and trails of the Twin Cities, and not-so-happily endure the often endlessly cold winters. In my free time I love hanging with my family, kayaking on the beautiful Minnehaha Creek, and getting up to the cabin just to be.
I have been a fan of stories for about as long as I can remember. I kept diaries as a kid, wrote in journals during our frequent family vacations, and dabbled in poetry as a teen. My creative energies led me to study filmmaking at the University of Iowa then a short adventure in Hollywood where I got no further than donating my time on the set of some low-budget movies produced by the iconic movie-man Roger Corman. My bare feet even appeared in a movie when they didn’t want to pay the real actor to come back for reshoots!
My job keeps me close to my target audience, which I’m thankful for every day. My goal as a writer is to write stories that appeal to a wide audience, including even the most reluctant readers. I love stories that propel me through them with great characters and a mile-a-minute plot. It’s my ambition to write stories that do the same.
Common Questions I Get from My Readers
What is your favorite book?
I’m not sure I have a favorite, but the answer I usually give if I can only name one book is Holes by Louis Sachar. This book just blew me away when I read it. I’ve reread it as well and enjoyed it just as much. My list of favorite books tends to change frequently and is often based on what I’ve read most recently. But, here are some of the books that I have loved and that have connected with me the most over the years.
- Holes – Louis Sachar
- Frindle – Andrew Clements
- A Long Way from Chicago – Richard Peck
- Hatchet – Gary Paulsen
- Blackwater Ben – William Durbin
- Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian – Sherman Alexie
- The Fudge books – Judy Blume
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain
- Fever, 1793 – Laurie Halse Anderson
- Mamba Point – Kurtis Scaletta
- Bridge to Terabithia – Katherine Paterson
- Project Mulberry – Linda Sue Park
- Al Capone Does My Shirts – Gennifer Choldenko
- The Book of 100 Truths – Julie Schumacher
- Shredderman: Secret Identity – Wendelin Van Draanen
- Swindle – Gordon Korman
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Jeff Kinney
How did you find an illustrator for Lost?
Marcus Smith drew the illustrations for Lost. I think he did just a fantastic job! I did not, however, choose Marcus, nor do I even know him. The publisher of the book was the one who chose Marcus to illustrate my book. That made my life much easier. I was able to just write the story and let the publisher find a talented artist like Marcus Smith. In the world of children’s books, this is often what happens. Authors and illustrators often do not work together. Instead, it’s the publisher that finds a good match between the words and the illustrations.
How did you come up with the idea for Lost?
The idea, actually, came fairly easily. As a young boy I took many trips to the Boundary Waters with my dad. I always loved exploring the woods and I always wondered what would happen if I got injured or lost in that rugged wilderness. Some of my best memories of those trips were hanging out with my dad and reeling in walleye after walleye while the sun set across the lake. If you don’t know what a walleye is, you must not be from Minnesota. Look it up!
Do you have any advice for kids who would like to be published?
My biggest advice would be just to write, write, write! There are plenty of writing contests and even some magazines that publish stories written by children, like Stone Soup for example. But I believe the most important thing at your young age is not getting published, but learning how to write. Take classes, write a lot, read a lot, and think a lot. I’m a firm believer, too, in the fact that life experiences lead to good writing. Get out there and do stuff! Writing is awesome, but don’t spend all your time cooped up in your house writing and reading. The people you meet and the activities you do will inspire you to write good stories later!