My mother is German and my father is Indian, which lent itself to an upbringing rich in international folk and fairytales. My biggest influences were the German stories in particular, which lend themselves beautifully to daydreaming. The Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, even the Struwwelpeter served as a palette of colorful options by which to set my moral compass. Which, if you’ve read many German stories (especially the Struwwelpeter) is a little scary.
I was interested enough in my classmates to understand, though, that perhaps the Struwwelpeter was not the authority on human motivation. I was so interested in my classmates that all through elementary, middle and high school, I wrote and wrote about them–hundreds of notebooks filled with adventure stories that I illustrated as well. I had some wonderful teachers who encouraged me to read my stories out loud in class, and I learned the pleasure of making people feel welcome in a world I’d made up.
(The picture above is of me, age four, pretending to be a Sandman Moonman dinosaur hunter. I am sure this character is crayoned into a story somewhere.)
When I grew up, it turned out I was still writing stories and drawing pictures for them with a tenacious passion. Happily, I began doing both professionally. I also found a wonderful home at Vermont College of Fine Arts, where I’m currently enrolled in their Writing for Children and Young Adults MFA program.
To date, I have illustrated three picture books and written and illustrated one. I live and work in Austin, TX, which, if it weren’t for the sizzling sidewalks and dehydrated bugs, would be heaven on earth.