After school, I enjoyed hiding from my siblings under our mismatched rattan furniture where I read for hours. I loved everything from old 1970s copies of MAD Magazine, to Dr. Doolittle, Just So Stories, The Golden Compass, and Highlights for Children. As a teen I became obsessed with 19th century Russian novelists, especially Dostoevsky and Turgenev. I began stealing my mother’s New Yorker Magazine. Then hiding became essential, since she would take it from me and read it herself.
Despite reading a lot, I never considered writing or drawing as a career. The people who wrote and illustrated books were like remote gods whom I didn’t expect to get the privilege to meet.
By the time I was eight I believed society expected everyone to make money as a lawyer, doctor or professor, or to starve trying.
The subsequent 20 years have been a gradual process of adjustment and changing expectations. As my art and storytelling skills develop, I am always drawn to the sense of unbridled joy and curiosity that makes us all look back on youth with nostalgia. I came to understand that language, educational level, and geography divide us, but stories bring us together. Anne Frank wrote, “nobody need wait a single moment to start improving the world.”
Children of today struggle to navigate the world as recent immigrants to the human world. Many children are forced to deal with complex subjects like divorce, sexual identity or shadism. The world of a child can be a lonely place without stories. I want to write and draw books for these children, to communicate that they are not alone, and that their lives are filled with beauty, dignity, and potential.
I spent hours watching my hamsters stuff seeds into their mouths, crying when my fish Poor Little Sad Guy died, and worrying about why pants have pockets.
Growing up in Madison, Wisconsin, the winters were cold and the summers were hot. I looked forward to ice skating on the lakes in winter. I still remember the smell of stale sweat and leather in the ice houses where people changed from winter boots into skates, and where we could buy packets of hot chocolate to mix into Styrofoam cups.
I hated swimming lessons, but loved horseback riding and frogs. For several years I aspired to be a professional dog catcher....