Why did you want to be a writer?
Because I can’t play the trombone, of course!
And I can’t sing or draw and I’m not a very good dancer and I’m a terrible actor.
I can swim, though I’m not fast, and please don’t ask me to play any sport that involves a ball, because you’ll be disappointed.
But I’ve always liked stories and books. When I was very little, I wanted to be an inventor. I didn’t really care what I invented. I just liked the idea of making new things. I think writing is my way of being an inventor, whether I’m writing fiction or fact, because it’s something new that I can shape and mould and bring into existence.
Where do you live?
I live in a little white house with a tin roof in a small town in the mountains of British Columbia. The small town is about 8 hours from Vancouver and 8 hours from Calgary. I live with my husband and two daughters and a cat that has more fur than a cat should be allowed to have.
We had to shave him once and we found out he’s surprisingly small. (He didn’t like that at all.)
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I work for a book publisher. I read for fun and to find out new things. I spend a lot of time in playgrounds with my kids. We also ride bikes and cross-country ski and swim and hike in the mountains. In the summer, we go camping because there are so many beautiful lakes and rivers nearby. I do a lot of cooking, but not enough cleaning.
Where were you born?
I was born in a tiny town near Durban, in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. I’m the youngest of four sisters. I was born too early, so I lived in an incubator for the first six weeks of my life. I weighed less than 4 pounds and my sister says I looked like a boiled monkey.
When I was two, we moved to my grandfather’s farm in Zambia (that’s a country in central Africa). Two years after that, we immigrated to Canada. We arrived in January, which is not a smart thing to do when you’re from Africa. I’d never seen snow before. We didn’t have any winter boots or jackets. We bought one pair of boots and my mother and sisters shared them. They were too big for me, so I wore my sister’s old school shoes. They has perfectly smooth, slippery soles so I slid around a lot or crawled up snowy hills. I spent my childhood huddled over the heating vent. Since then, I’ve learned how to dress for the weather, though I’m still not very good at skating.
Five random facts
- I can’t tell the difference between my right and left, which is why I don’t go to aerobics classes. I keep bumping into the person next to me.
- I have six cousins and they live in five countries on three continents. Family reunions don’t happen very often, but when they do, they’re a big deal!
- I had a South African accent until high school, but I got teased so I learned to speak Canadian instead.
- I used to compete in synchronised swimming.
- In high school, I played the trombone. Of course!