I have been writing and illustrating stories all my life. When I was 13, my first story was published in The Morning Press, the local newspaper in my home town, where I wrote about my experiences volunteering during the summer in a day-care center for the children of the migrant farmworkers who came up from the southern states to pick crops in the rural Pennsylvania county where I grew up. My second published story, when I was 16, was submitted by my high-school English teacher to a national school literary magazine, Typog. I knew nothing about the magazine or the fact that my teacher had submitted it until it was published, because, he said later, he hadn't wanted me to be disappointed by telling me before, in case it wasn't accepted. During college I continued to write and had a few poems published in small literary magazines.
When I was 25, I married and moved to New Zealand where I lived first on Great Barrier Island, a rugged rural island fifty miles off the coast of the North Island at the entrance to the Hauraki Gulf, and then in New Zealand's largest city of Auckland. While trying to get work as a book illustrator, I made appointments with all the book publishers in Auckland and hauled my large art portfolio on public tranportation all over the city to meet with each one. My appointment at Collins Publishers (now HarperCollins) went so well that a few months later, I decided to send them something I'd written. It was the first story I'd written set in my new country, inspired in part by a childrens' television show I'd seen about New Zealand's natural history, and in part by stories told to me by a new friend about her expereinces working for many years as a visiting nurse in one of New Zealand's remotest rural areas. I typed the story manuscript, as I had all my college and high-school stories, on the cheap plastic portable typewriter given to me when I was 15 and sent it off. A few weeks later, I got a letter from the publishing director at Collins Publishers telling me they were interested. I worked with an editor through several drafts, and in 1984, A Rumour of Otters was published by Collins Publishers, Auckland. By then, I had moved back home to the United States. I sent the published book to an American publisher, Houghton Mifflin Company, who bought the foreign rights and published the book in this country. In 1986, A Rumour of Otters won an ALA (American Library Association) Notable Book Award. I continued to write books for young-adult readers for the next eighteen years. The following list shows the Houghton Mifflin Company editions of my seven novels. Keep scrolling to see the foreign-edition book jackets for many of these books, and click on "Filming Flight of the Albatross" to see the story of how my second novel, Fight of the Albatross, also set in New Zealand, was made into an international, award-winning film.