Oh gosh, I love the library. Actually one of the first books I remember taking out... When I was a kid I would go to the adult section and they had these books called the "Writer's Market" which came out every year. I would go in the adult section and look at all the markets for writing, so it was my professional development... that I could get my hands on this book and see all these magazines that wanted articles and all these publishers and wanted books. And it was my inspiration for wanting to be a writer.
I loved being surrounded by books. My great uncle was a publisher, so I was surrounded at home by these classic books he published He ran... started the Limited Editions Club in the Heritage Press. But I was surrounded by classics, and I wanted more timely books, so I went to the library. I always read non-fiction. I remember there was a book that Mel Torme wrote about hanging out with Judy Garland, something about Judy Garland on the dog patrol and I found all these nonfiction books that, I don't know, fulfilled some curiosity in me and led to me being a non-fiction writer, I guess.
[On her favorite librarian] I wouldn't say I had one then, I have favorite librarians now. I live in Englewood, New Jersy. We seem to be having black-outs lot and whenever there's a blackout people go to the library because there's Internet access there's... friendly community and I actually wrote part of the "Wheels of Change" in my public library.
We had a blackout for four days in March of 2010. I was on chapter two. I brought my computer. I brought all of my research for that chapter and I staked out a carrel and didn't leave, didn't go to the bathroom, I didn't want to give up my space. And I think it's the best chapter in the book, so something about being in the library and being surrounded by all these people reading and just feeling good about the community we lived in was important.
I go there sometimes, I definitely use it. It's a great resource. I use it... I just was there the other day, unfortunately we're being threatened with massive cuts, so when I get home, Tuesday, I'm gonna go testify at the City Council meeting. When you see what happens during time of crisis, like a blackout, and you see that the library is really the only meeting place and the only place where people who need to get online and need to keep up their lives can go to.
You know, we don't have really an auditorium or a community center. The library is a community center and so I think it's so important to keep libraries going, and going strong. Those are the people who really have there their fingers on the pulse of what's going on in the community.
And I don't have that much to do with... I don't have kids in school, so I don't know what's going on necessarily, in schools, but I go to the library to know what's up in my town.
[On censorship] I was trained as an editor at Scholastic, so we always published with an eye towards the school, what's acceptable in schools, but even so, I think that libraries need to have options available for every kid and adult that has different interests and it's not the community's role to censor.
The parent, for their kid maybe, or you self censor, you don't cut off the hand to spite the whatever... that's not a good analogy, but you know you don't make decisions for people; you let people make their own decisions.
The one I'm here talking about is "Wheels of Change," which is about the impact of the bicycle on America and on women particularly at the turn of the 20th century. I'm also working on something... I'm working on a picture book about roller derby in the 1940s and the symbiosis between the beginning of the television age and the popularity of roller derby.
[What is fascinating about roller derby?] I love roller derby because it was one of the first sports where women competed equally with men. It was a two hour competition. For 15 minutes at a time ,first women would compete, then the men. And there were some characters. It was the forties when Americans were more... whee looking inward, as far as the family and women were losing jobs that they had in World War II and suddenly, they had the strong, crazy women as role models. I think it's always good to to shake things up and they absolutely shook things up.
All author videos are available for use under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license. We encourage libraries and library supporters to reuse this content and ask only that you provide a link back to the website. To request a copy of an author video contact the ALA Office for Library Advocacy at firstname.lastname@example.org.