Q: Tell us about you.
A: Well, I like writing, and it always turns out my writing is for kids. But I like to think my books are for ages 8 to 80.
Q: What's your favorite food?
A: I really like artichokes.
Q: Favorite animal?
A: I like cats and I like elephants. Giraffes are amazing.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I grew up in London, England; in Belmont, Massachusetts; in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; New Hampshire and Maine; in boarding school in Providence, Rhode Island. In the course of raising two sons (Nick and Hickory) and teaching middle school drama for years, I grew up quite a bit more. I am still working on the growing up part.
Q: Do you have a pet?
A: We have a cat named Henrietta.
Q: Who is in your family?
A: I am married to a very nice man named Tim and I have two sons named Nick and Hickory and two brothers and a sister and three cousins and one nephew and our nieces. My mother died, I'm sad to say, before my youngest son was born, and my father is in his 90's.
Q: What are some of your early memories?
A: I remember my sister stuffing me into a dark and terrifying little elevator that was used to bring food up from the kitchen. (It was called a dumb waiter and it was attached to pulleys and a rope.)
I remember someone telling me if I swallowed gum it would stay in my stomach forever. (This was right after I swallowed some gum.)
I remember the London fog enveloping everything in mystery. I remember a climbing tree in the yard.
Q: How or when did you begin writing?
A: I grew up in a reading and writing family. I remember tapping away on a typewriter before I could really write. My first story was about a dog named Happy. I also come from a very talkative family. I learned that I could get people to pay attention to me through the written word!
Q: What was school like for you?
At first School wasn't really work—we wrote stories, put on plays—we liked our teachers, and they liked us.
After sixth grade, I went to a new school. It had long, dark corridors and it always seemed to be raining. The teachers were strict and there was a lot of homework, but it was one of those strict teachers who taught me to become a better thinker, writer, and reader.
After that year, my family moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from Massachusetts. It was a big move in many ways: from childhood to adolescence; from a home where I made my own bed to a home with many servants; from a proper all-girls' school to a huge, public-school style school with all sorts of kids from all sorts of countries. Rio was exotic and romantic, as different as could be from New England.
After two years, I was sent back to the United States for a more serious education at a girls' boarding school. I went there for five years—five years of a blue uniform skirt, a white blouse, sensible shoes, and crazy housemothers. In the fall of my first year, John F. Kennedy was shot; in the spring of my last year, Bobby Kennedy was shot.
I went to Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York during the turbulent years of the late '60s and early '70s.
Advice for aspiring writers:
Develop a habit of writing. Write every day. Eventually something that you write will call out to you and ask that it be more fully developed into a story.
For more stories about my family
and my childhood,
Mail:8 Setback Lane, Gill, MA 01354
Amy Gordon is published by Holiday House,