Questions People Often Ask ...
Where do you get your ideas?
From my own past, and from the children around me—in particular, my niece and nephew who live nearby. My nephew’s passionate love for animals went right into Batty. His sister’s calm way of going about being the oldest helped me with Rosalind. My nephew was also kind enough to turn into a brilliant soccer player—and is now my expert when I write about Skye and Jane and their antics on the soccer field.
I also borrow from other books, especially the ones I loved best when I was young. The idea of four sisters came from Little Women. Batty’s adventure with the bull came from Emily of New Moon. There are other examples, but that would be giving too much away!
Did you grow up in a family of four sisters?
No, I just had one sister who was four years older than I was, and didn’t like playing with me. The Penderwicks are more like the family I wished I had.
Is Arundel a real place? Is Cameron?
The places in my books are like the people—a mixture of real and imagined. Before I wrote The Penderwicks, I visited and photographed many gorgeous mansions in New England. All of these went into Arundel.
Cameron is loosely based on Amherst, Massachusetts. Here are two things I borrowed directly from Amherst for the books: Wildwood Elementary, where my niece and nephew went to school, and Antonio’s Pizza, which does indeed make the best pizza in the universe.
Who is your favorite Penderwick sister?
I don’t have a favorite. It’s easiest for me to write about Batty, and hardest to write about Rosalind, but that doesn’t mean I like Batty more than Rosalind. It’s sort of like parents with their children, I think—they love each one for different reasons, but not one more than another. Or, at least, that’s how it should be!
Who are your favorite authors?
My most favorite children’s book author is E. Nesbit. But there are so many others. Look along the right side of each page of this website for quotes from lots of them.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It takes me three years to write a Penderwicks novel.
Do you have any pets?
Right now we have a dog and two cats. Go here to see pictures of all of my past and present pets.
Are you writing more books about the Penderwicks?
There are now three published Penderwick books, and I’m working on the fourth, which will come out in 2014. The fifth Penderwick book will be the last.