Author information taken from author's website:
I was born in Chicago, Illinois to Japanese immigrants. We moved to the suburbs when I was three, and I grew up in an almost-all-white town and went to almost-all-white schools. It was actually a very nice life: there was a field with wild strawberries and a pony at the end of my street, and a pond across the street where we caught tadpoles in the summer and went ice skating in the winter. But as one of the only Asian kids in my school, I often felt like an outsider. Also, I was just a weird kid. I spent a lot of time with my head buried in a book, or just in my own imagination.
Speaking of books, I’ve loved reading for as long as I can remember; some of my earliest memories are of poring over the pictures in my Mother Goose nursery rhyme books that my mother read to me so that I would hear English and be ready for nursery school. In first grade, my childhood across-the-street friend introduced me to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series (which I remember with great fondness, though we now understand them to espouse problematic attitudes about Native Americans), Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends, E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, Fred Gwynne’s A Chocolate Moose for Dinner, and to a lovely (now out of print and probably also problematic) book of verse by William Cole, entitled Beastly Boys and Ghastly Girls.
I loved writing, too. My first love was poetry because it was short and it demanded that I pay attention to word choice and rhythm, something I still love to work with when I write. I never wrote stories unless they were assigned, though I did start a chapter book with a friend in fourth or fifth grade; it was inspired by Mary Norton’s The Borrowers, and it was about a group of little dolls who come to life at night and have adventures. My alter ego was Emily, a smart, athletic, popular type with long blond braids and blue eyes, which should tell you quite a lot about who and what I longed to be.
There was a very long period (decades!) when I didn’t see myself as the creative writing type. That period began when I started focusing on taking the right classes to get into a good college and ended when I challenged myself to write a novel at age 46. You hear about writers and artists who say things like, “I write because I have to write. The story/poem demands to be written. The characters demand to be heard.” That has never been me. Ever. I have to choose to write, to force myself to think about who my characters are and what their story is.
Outside of writing, I’ve also always been a swimmer. I joined a swim team when I was eleven, and it took me all the way through college. After college, I went to Japan for three years to teach English at Kobe Jogakuin High School, and then returned to the U.S. to get a teaching certificate and a Masters degree in Education. I taught high school English for several years in Santa Clara, CA before I had kids, took a long hiatus, and decided to try writing a novel. Luckily for me, the author thing worked out, and here I am today, writing my very long bio!