If I were a dog, I'd be a Jack Russell terrier, because I'm feisty, short-haired, and tenacious.  Most of the books I write feature a dog or dog relative (fox, werewolf, etc.). My favorite activities include long walks on a loose leash, napping in front of a fire, and rolling belly-up in the grass. Whenever I jump the fence in search of adventure, I inevitably find it, but the best part is always coming back home, to my wee ranchette in Colorado.

First Grade

For as long as I can remember, I have loved books, animals, and books about animals.  In my preschool days, my grandmother read to me at her house across town.  The Owl and the Pussycat, Chicken Little and The Poky Little Puppy were my favorite Little Golden books.  When I was eight years old and Gran came to live with us, it was my turn to read to her, through many a magical afternoon.

 

I grew up in the small town of Sedalia, Missouri, home of the state fair.  My older brother and I had a dog named Pepe Le Pew, after the cartoon skunk, a cat Sunshine, parakeets, and rabbits Princess and Willie who, of course, had baby rabbits.

 

Our parents were natural storytellers who spiced up our dinner hours with amusing anecdotes.  Dad used a lot of witty expressions like:

"You can't run a circus without clowns,"

"I'm going to take off now, like a great speckled bird," and "On the other hand, I have five fingers." 


My best friend Cath lived up the block.  Her dad converted his toolshed into a playhouse for us.  We went through a pioneer phase, a musical comedy phase, and a horse-crazy phase, none of which we ever completely outgrew.  We once wrote a fan letter to Walter Farley, who wrote back, enclosing two Black Stallion Fan Club pins.  Cath and I are still best friends today . . . none of your beeswax how many years later.  And she still has her Black Stallion pin.

 

Supported by such a colorful cast of characters in a childhood filled with love and laughter, is it any wonder that I grew up to be a writer?  

Jessica (center) at book signing at Tattered Cover,

Highlands Ranch, CO

Jessica and Cath, best friends then and now.

"All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world."

--E.B. White

Cath, Jessica and friends

Childhood dog Pepe

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