Tell us about your most recent book and how you came to write it.
My second middle grade novel, Laugh with the Moon, was published in June, 2012 (Random House). It tells the story of a 13-year-old girl from Boston named Clare Silver who goes to Malawi, Africa for nine weeks, after the recent death of her mother. Though Clare is furious at her father for taking her away from her friends to live in the jungle, she soon discovered the reason behind her father’s motivation—it is healing to be among peers who, for better or worse, are expert at dealing with grief.
The novel is based on my own experience visiting Malawi, and I drew from the friendships I made with the people I met here.
Do you think of yourself as a diverse author?
I’d say yes and no. I’m an Ashkenazi Jew, so I look white. But growing up in Massachusetts, I always felt an outsider in a town where there were country clubs, but only token Jewish and black members were allowed to join. I was born in Birmingham, Alabama, where my father was a civil rights lawyer and a partner in the first integrated law firm in the state since Reconstruction. So while I’m not a person of color, I probably identify with the struggles more than some other people.