I've had a 27-year career as drama teacher, director, and chair of the fine arts program at Bement School in Deerfield, Mass. I've spent many years teaching writing and theater workshops for kids. And I'm the author of eleven books (and counting), for young and young-adult readers.
Gorillas of Gill Park: Texas Bluebonnet Award nomination; Mark Twain Readers Award nomination; William Allen White Children’s Book Awards nomination; numerous state award nominations
Twenty Gold Falcons: Mark Twain Readers Award nomination
The Shadow Collector’s Apprentice: Mark Twain Readers Award nomination; William Allen White Children’s Book Awards nomination
When JFK Was My Father: Junior Library Guild Selection; California Recommended Lit., English, 6-8
I was a shy person in a very talkative family. I discovered that if I wrote entertaining stories as Christmas presents, I could get the entire family to stop talking and pay attention to me.
I loved to read when I was young and spent a lot of time pretending. My imagination was shaped by adventure stories, Rudyard Kipling's "Just So" stories, Native American folktales, Greek myths, books about real children who had magical things happen to them (like E. Nesbit's novels), Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, and coming-of-age books by the wonderful writer Rumer Godden.
In my adult life, I've been very lucky to have a career teaching drama and directing plays for young people. Now I get to encourage pretending! The creative problem-solving involved in teaching has helped my writing; the many years of kids I've taught—and my own two sons—have always inspired me. And then there's the child I was—
and I always try to write for her as well. I'm a lot less shy now, but the written word is still my best tool for expressing and sharing my real self.
I'm semi-retired from teaching now, but each spring I work at the Gill Elementary School in Massachusetts heading up ACT, an after-school acting program for 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. We perform a play for the community on the stage of the Town Hall. Usually, we adapt an existing story—like Robin Hood, our project for this year—but one year we made up a play together. I also run fiction and poetry workshops for kids of all ages.
I live with my husband, Tim, in Gill with our dog, Minji, and cat, Henrietta; we have a beautiful view of the Connecticut river. My (now grown-up) sons, Nick Lawson and Hugh Lawson, are both in the arts: Nick is an actor and Hugh (a.k.a. Hickory) is a videographer and filmmaker.