Where do you live?
I live in Hardwick, Vermont with my husband, Georg and my dog, Yoyo. I’ve lived in six states so far: Massachusetts, Illinois, New York, Washington, California and now Vermont.
Do you have any farm animals?
Not at the moment but we’ve raised turkeys, chickens, ducks, guinea fowl, and pigs. My favorites were the guinea fowl. Every morning the whole flock marched down the dirt road to our neighbor’s apple tree and spent the day in the branches chasing bugs. At dusk they’d walk back up the hill to sleep in their guinea-fowl coop. The only problem with guinea fowl is their screeching. If they see anything suspicious—a strange dog, a hawk overhead, a pail or car that wasn’t there before, they screech. It’s pretty awful.
Here’s a video of a farm with guinea fowl screeching:
Are you a dog person or a cat person?
I am a dog person. I’m allergic to cats so I might have also been a cat person if they didn’t make my eyes itch. Our dog, Yoyo, chases squirrels and frogs and wild turkeys. He always brings visitors a shoe or boot as a welcome gift when they come visit. Yoyo enjoys mud baths and loves to cuddle—not always the best combination.
Where do you write?
I work in a very old shed that started out as a corn crib, was converted to a spring shed for milk storage, then sat for a long, long time—home to squirrels and rusty tractor parts. We fixed it up. In the winter I wear snowshoes to get to my writing shed and start a fire in the woodstove to keep me warm. It’s got everything I need: a view of the mountains, a chair for visitors and a dog bed for Yoyo.
Did you always want to be a writer?
I always wrote, mostly about what I saw in the world and what I thought about it all. I became serious about writing fiction when I was older and had an idea for a novel. I went to Vermont College of Fine Arts and that experience changed my life.
Where do you get your ideas?
Ideas arrive from mysterious places. I go for a long walk in the woods almost every day and let my mind and Yoyo wander. That’s when ideas pop up, when I’m not looking for them. And I have to stop and jot them down since they fade away like a dream after I wake up.
Did you like teaching?
I loved teaching, especially science. I owned almost 80 pairs of rubber boots so I could outfit each new class in September. We’d hike out to creeks and ponds and explore the natural world. I taught in Massachusetts, California and Vermont.
Do you have any hobbies?
I read a lot. All kinds of books—non-fiction, fiction, mysteries, short stories, and biographies. I like to garden…berries mostly: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries and currants. I make a lot of jam and jelly. I listen to books on tape while I weed. I got through all of Moby Dick while I cut out the old canes in our enormous raspberry patch—thirty-seven hours. It was wonderful.