Where did you grow up? Where Do you live now?
I grew up in Nashville, Tennessee...I was an explorer and my banana seat bike was my ticket to freedom. I knew every tree, creek, and secret hiding place in our neighborhood. When I got married and had a family, we lived in Orlando, Florida for eleven years. So naturally, we explored and became experts on all the theme parks! From Florida, we moved on to Toronto, Canada. The outdoors called to us and we responded by hiking, skiing, skating, and sledding, as well as visiting cool places like the CN Tower and Niagara Falls. We now live in the Northern Virginia/Washington DC area, where we continue to enjoy outdoor adventures with a new addition to the family, Roxy the dog.
What are your favorite children's books?
My favorite books? Hmm....there are so many it is hard to pick, but here are a few:
Picture Books: The Three Ninja Pigs, Olivia, The Polar Express, Little Pea, The Mitten, Blackout, Ferdinand the Bull, Corduroy
Chapter Books: Clementine, The Stink series, The Superfudge series, Magic Tree House, A to Z Mysteries, Down Girl & Sit
Middle Grade: The Harry Potter series, Wonder, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, The Shredderman series, The Lightening Thief series, Hoot, El Deafo, Fish in a Tree
Young Adult: Flipped, Goodbye Stranger, The War that Saved My Life, What My Mother Doesn't Know, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Speak, The Hunger Games, The Crossover, Echo
What jobs did you have before becoming a writer?
My past jobs include...babysitter, quality control at a meat packing company, day care teacher, courtesy counter at the YMCA, scuba dive master, and Elementary school teacher.
What's one place you'd like to visit?
I love to travel and there are so many places I would like to visit, but one that comes to mind is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. My son, daughter, and I are anxious to get our own wands at Ollivanders and have a butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks. Can you tell we're fans of the books?
Did you have a favorite class in school?
In college, I decided to take the craziest PE classes I could. So I took gymnastics, sailing, rock climbing, and scuba diving. Even though it really scared me at first, I went on to become a Divemaster logging over 100 dives. The coolest was the shark dive! And the night dive was fascinating—things are actually glowing down there. One time, I saw a grouper that was three times my size...maybe four.
The point? As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing that scares you every day.” Not something dangerous—just something that challenges you and gets you out of your “comfort zone.”
Name one “kid” thing you still like to do.
The kid in me still loves to swing...It's the best ride in town! It's kind of like your own personal roller coaster. I love all those belly butterflies!
A Little About Laura
I never dreamed of being a children's author until I grew up. As a kid, I was too busy building forts in the bushes, wading in creeks, hiding out in tree houses, and imagining I was someone or something else.
In fourth grade, our school librarian introduced me to a series of fantasy/adventure books called The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. I was completely taken in. What an incredible journey...to go places I'd never dreamed of...to be someone else...solving a mystery...on an adventure. I was hooked on reading.
Then in college, while taking a children's literature course for my teaching degree, it occurred to me how much fun it would be not just to read, but to write for kids.
My classroom as a teacher
This idea simmered as a "someday" dream in the back of my head while I taught Kindergarten, married a wonderful man I met in scuba diving classes, and had three of my favorite people in the whole world—my children.
When my own son started kindergarten years later, that “someday” dream suddenly blossomed into an idea. I was so excited about it that I began to research writing for children. I joined The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), participated in writing critique groups and conferences, and began to develop and nurture my ideas into stories. I loved it! I was hooked again, not only on reading, but on writing as well!