AF: How long have you been a writer?
The long answer is since second grade. I dictated a poem for my teacher to my mother that was read over the school intercom—my first audio production. By sixth grade, I had a column, Dear Gabby, in Mr. Rideout’s classroom newsletter. I went on to become editor of my junior high and high school newspapers. From there, I majored in journalism with a concentration in English and then continued to earn a law degree.
The short answer is that I began writing for children in 1995, signing with my literary agent and selling my first book in 1998 for a 2000 release date. I’m just finishing what will be my fifteenth book for publication in 2018.
AF: What inspired you to write this book?
Feral Pride is the cap to the Feral trilogy, which also includes Feral Nights and Feral Curse. The books are genre benders, largely set in the Austin-Bastrop area. Feral Pride crosses over the casts of the Feral trilogy and Tantalize series. So, it’s in many ways a culmination book that thematically asks: What does it mean to be human?
It’s tremendous fun, especially for Austinites, with scenes that take place on South Congress, at the zoo, in Westlake and at a fictional resort just west of town.
AF: How long have you lived in Austin?
Since 1995. I moved from Chicago to Austin because I’d decided to write for kids full-time, and back then, Austin had a significantly lower cost of living. (I’m not sure that’s still the case, but it’s home and I love it.)
AF: Tell us about your family.
I was an only child blessed by the frequent company of many cousins. My family is largely Native American, so my Nation (Muscogee Creek) is an extension of that. I’m delighted that my double-third cousin, filmmaker Elizabeth Cole (Cherokee), is moving to Austin this summer. My first novel, Rain Is Not My Indian Name, is dedicated to her.
AF: What do you like most about Austin?
The literary community! Austin is considered one of the top children’s-YA book creator hubs in the country, right up there with New York, LA, Chicago, Seattle and the entire state of Florida.
We’re also home to the Texas Library Association, Texas Book Festival, Writers’ League of Texas, BookPeople, the Writing Barn and the internationally acclaimed Austin chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
We are among the brightest of the story makers, who bring magic and adventures into the lives of young readers. I’m honored to play a small part of that.