OVERVIEW: Small but usually on a diet. On the planet Jupiter I'd weigh 319 lbs.
CHILDHOOD: Raised by mammoths during the ice age, along with two brothers and a very disturbed cocker spaniel. My mother worked for Walt Disney Studios in an office located at the corner of Minnie Avenue and Dopey Drive.
WHERE I LIVE NOW: Santa Barbara, California, about a block from a very nice beach.
HOBBIES: I like to read, dance with my dog, collect rocks, play the recorder, hike among the redwoods, and make collages.
CHILDHOOD: As a child, more than anything, I wanted to be a writer. But every time I wrote a story, my third grade teacher would say with a certain tone, "That's nice, Ellen, but you have to indent!" Indent? I decided I'd give up writing until I learned the basics. But today I can honestly say I indent as well as J.K. Rowling.
FAMILY: One very smart husband (Roger), two talented stepchildren (Kyle and Megan), one cute dog (Abigail Ingersoll Jackson-Schlueter), and two amazing best friends (Cookie and Kathy). Family lore has it that we are distant relatives of Andrew Jackson, the only president who invited the entire country to his inauguration. When fifteen thousand people showed up, he escaped out the window and spent the night in a hotel.
INTERESTS: Writing, playing music, and listening to the silence that frames the notes. Tidepooling, looking for shark’s egg cases and little octopusses. Sitting quietly on the banks of a stream, reading about plants and animals, stars and galaxies. And enjoying being an inhabitant of this tormented, confused, and deluded world.
EDUCATION: I was a Psychology/History/Philosophy major who ended up with a B.A. in English (UCLA), Teaching Accreditation (UCLA), and an M.A. in Counseling (California Family Study Center) with a specialty in early childhood development.
PROFESSIONAL: I've worked as an elementary school teacher, curriculum specialist, curriculum author, editor, and award-winning author of children's books. I've volunteered at the library and at a local homeless shelter, where I cooked 3,248 enchiladas over a period of ten years.
MOST UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCES: Sleeping in a room where the walls were crawling with large tarantulas (Galapagos Islands). Learning to sing and dance in a gorilla suit (for a play). Watching the sun rise from the top of the Arecibo Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico.
FAVORITE THINGS: Weather–when it rains and is sunny at the same time. Food–my mother’s chilli, potato salad, cinnamon raisin bagels. Holidays–Halloween and Valentine’s Day. Writers–Annie Dillard, Joseph Campbell, Chet Raymo, Elizabeth Gilbert, Jack Kornfield, Oliver Sacks, Diane Ackerman, Jared Diamond, A.S. Byatt, Carolyn See, Wally Lamb, the Lesters–Helen and Julius, Patricia Polacco, Julia Cunningham, and many, many more. Because I like being a writer so much, Monday is my favorite day of the week.
FAVORITE BIG WORD: Gobsmacked as in "I don't believe it. I’m absolutely gobsmacked!" Also honeyfuggle. Other favorites are bodacious, dumbfangled, iatrogenic.
FAVORITE EXPRESSION: Never miss a good chance to keep your mouth shut.
WORST FAULT: I spend lots of time thinking about all the bad things that might happen that I can’t do anything about, such as a surprise attack of army ants or the sun going supernova. I use parentheses too much (and sometimes forget to close them.
If you would like to know what I was like as a child, go to Childhood Diary.
ORGANIZATIONS: SCBWI, Author's Guild, Zooniverse, and the Fellowship of Flawed Persons.