Is that you on the cover of Dear Toni? 

No, it’s not, but I have to agree that the illustration does resemble me in grade five or six. I did get an email from a woman in Venice, Italy who was positive that someone had used a picture of her to do the cover. She  sent me a copy of the photograph that she thought was the model for the illustration. According to Gillian Newland, the woman who designed the cover, the kid on the front is just what she imagined when she read the manuscript. 

Are any parts of this story true?

Yes, lots of them. Writers get their ideas from listening, looking, eavesdropping and imagining. Personally I think that in any given day we walk past, or don’t bother to notice, hundreds of possible things to write about.
As for the true parts in Dear Toni, I would say that lots of the situations that Gene finds herself in are experiences I’ve seen, heard, or been part of. I did have a friend in fourth grade that had six St. Bernards. Their doghouse was an a-frame cabin located behind their gas station. That same year my family moved twice, and it wasn’t easy changing schools, or making new friends. 

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

According to my mom she was shocked that anyone in our family became a writer, but then she added, “Who would have ever imagined that all those pages of scribbles could lead to this? I mean really, there were no discernable words or characters. ” So it sounds like my beginnings were nothing to brag about, but everyone has to start somewhere, right?
From what I remember I have wanted to be a writer for most of my life, but what I didn’t realize for a very long time was that if you want to write, you have to stop talking about writing and actually sit down and do the work. 

What is the best part of being an author?

For me my favourite part is when I am far enough into a story that things just start to happen. I love it when my characters do something unexpected or something unexpected happens to them. When I am this far into the story I can’t stop, it’s all I think about, and I am consumed by what is happening in the story. 

What is the hardest part of being an author?

It might be when you receive an envelope in the mail that has been folded in half and stamped and addressed by you, to you. It’s called a SASE. It’s contains your manuscript and a rejection letter. If you are going to write, and you want to be published, you will probably find out how this feels for yourself, at least once.