1. How did you come to the story, Rules?
Rules was inspired by my children. I have a daughter and a son, and my son was diagnosed with autism when he was two years old. Though the characters in Rules are not my own children, I did base some of David’s behaviors on things my son did when he was small. My son repeated lines from videos and books, including Arnold Lobel’s “Frog and Toad” books, and he truly did drop toys in our family goldfish tank. Once, he even dropped a Barbie in there!
2. What makes Catherine a strong girl?
Catherine loves her brother, but she also wishes sometimes she could be her own person, apart from him. It takes compassion and heart to love other people, and it takes strength to also love yourself enough to admit that you need things, too. At the end, Catherine publicly claims her friendship with Jason, even though she has been afraid to do that earlier. It doesn’t take bravery to do things that don’t scare you. When you do what’s really in your heart, in spite of feeling scared, that’s courage.
3. Finish this sentence, strong girls______
4. What are you working on next?
I just had a new novel come out this year called Half a Chance, and I have another novel coming in 2015. Both of those books are full of heart, deep questions, and warm humor, like Rules. We haven’t agreed on a title for the 2015 novel yet, but it’s set in Downeast Maine where the blueberry industry is very important. Migrant workers arrive in the late summer to rake blueberries, and the book is a friendship story between a girl who lives there and a girl whose family comes to work on the blueberry barrens.
I also have a chapter book series starting in August called “Shelter Pet Squad,” and it features a group of kids who volunteer at their local animal shelter and find a home for an animal in each book. The first book is called Jelly Bean and he is a guinea pig.