I liked school, riding horses, ballet, reading, music, swimming in the ocean, and being at the beach with my friends.
What audience did you have in mind for your career as a writer - adult or children?
I am a photographer also and started to photograph kids all over the world. I wanted to write for children and adults- but think that I can make a better impact on writing for children/youth.
When you went to college, were you already pursuing a writing career? (or a career in illustrating? or just art in general?)
No, I studied dance and anthropology.
What was your first job when you graduated from college?
I worked at Seventeen Magazine. Eventually I became a photography assistant and worked for magazines like Time, Life, Newsweek.
Was your first book accepted immediately? or did you experience a number of rejections?
My first book – I was the photographer and I hired a writer. Her writing was rejected by the publisher and my photos and idea for the book were accepted. The publisher then asked me to write the book.
What are the topics are some of your books?
Gangs, farm workers, families, abuse, guns.
What kinds of things inspire you to write?
I like to write about issues that affect youth. I like subjects that show sides of people a lot of people might ignore and that can breakdown stereotypes about people.
Have any of your books earned special recognition?
Yes, they have all won quite a few awards. One of my favorites was the American Library Association award for the Reluctant Reader.
When you do school visits, what question do children ask you most?
They ask me how I find the kids in my book and how I choose who I decide to interview and photograph.
What do you most want the students to get out of your school visits?
I want them to learn and have fun and be able to ask any question they would like.
Has anyone ever written you a fan letter that you’d like to share?
I’ve had a lot of “fan” letters. The ones I like the best are from someone from a farm worker family- who has been inspired by one of my books to go to college, or from someone in prison who has learned and been moved by my books.
What other jobs you had before you became a writer/illustrator?
I trained as a dancer, worked in the fashion business at magazines, I was a model, I was in the commodities business. I am a photographer and I lecture and sometimes teach photography to at schools.