To begin with, I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and lived in a small house on top of a hill. Together, my mother, a school teacher, and my father, a returning World War II paratrooper pursuing his college studies, brought tons of books into our small house on Cliffview Road. I guess you could say that these books were my first introduction to the world of literature. My father was always writing, so the sound of the typewriter was like the background music of my early childhood.
When I was eight, we relocated, by car, to Connecticut where I finished elementary school and high school. I went to college at the University of Connecticut, majoring first in music (too hard), psychology (too many theories), and finally English (yes! lot and lots of books!). I graduated UConn with a bachelors degree in English Literature.
After that, I traveled to Europe for quite a while, drank a lot of coffee, and wrote notebooks full of strange poetry. When I returned, I found work in a variety of bookstores and finally a university library where I met my wife to be.
It was when I began reading bedtime stories to my children that the spark of writing I had had for so many years finally turned to children's books. After many failures, my first published book, Danger Guys, was written while taking a writing class with renowned children's author, Patricia Reilly Giff.
That first book, and the series that it began, became the cornerstone of my writing career and has become something of a cult favorite, by virtue of its being difficult to find. Since then, I've written just about 100 books for readers ages 6 to 14, including the cult favorit popular fantasy saga, The Secrets of Droon.
Over 10 million of my books have been sold worldwide, and my series and novels combined have been translated into Italian, Spanish, Korean, French, Japanese, Polish, Turkish, and Russian.
Danger Guys was named a Children's Book-of-the-Month Club Main Selection, and the American Booksellers Association voted The Secrets of Droon among the "Top 10 List of Books to Read while Waiting for the Next Harry Potter." The series was also a Main Selection of the Children's Book-of-the-Month Club, and is on many school and library reading lists.
In 2007 my novel Firegirl won the Golden Kite Award for Fiction presented by the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. It is the only award given by children's writers to children's writers, a peer award I remain honored at having received. It was also a selection of the Junior Library Guild.
In the Spring of 2008, my second novel for Little, Brown Books for Young Readers appeared. The Postcard is a comedy/mystery about a boy who finds a clue on an old postcard while cleaning his recently deceased grandmother's Florida house, and who has no choice but to follow the mystery wherever it leads. Among other things, The Postcard is my love song to Florida's Gulf Coast, where my grandparents lived, and to old Florida, its architecture, roadside attractions, and Wild-West origins. It is, not least, my homage to the great hardboiled tradition of Hammett and Chandler, translated to a Florida setting. In 2009 The Postcard won the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allen Poe Award for Juvenile Literature.
My novel, Lunch-Box Dream, appeared in spring 2011 from Frances Foster Books/Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers. A historical novel, it details a road trip from North to South in 1959, in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the Civil War. A pair of young brothers first witness different races interact at an Atlanta, Georgia, bus station.
Two new series launched in 2012: Goofballs and Underworlds.
My literary and cultural interests include the films of Preston Sturges, the “Road” pictures of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, and the Marx Brothers, and the writings of Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, P.G. Wodehouse, Jules Verne, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Seamus Heaney, Emily Dickinson, Ted Hughes, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, The Arabian Nights, Beowulf, James Thurber, Philip Roth, Ralph Ellison, and William Faulkner.
I’m currently a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, the Yale Center for British Art, the Florence Griswold Museum, and am currently teaching at the Creative Writing MFA faculty at Lesley University. In addition, I present writing workshops and seminars to children and adults nationwide. With my wonderful wife, two delightful and brilliant daughters, and two cute dogs, I live and work happily in Connecticut.