Q: How did you become an author?
A: I was actually a teacher, first. I got my Masters Degree in Elementary Education, from the College of Saint Rose, and my Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from the State University of New York at Albany. I was a gifted/talented teacher, when I wrote a teaching article that got published. I thought, “Wow! I can get paid for this?” Cool.
Q: How many books have you written?
A: About 40! But most of those are educational books; the kind you find in school libraries for research and non-fiction reading. I did try to make them “not boring,” so it would be interesting to learn about the topic.
Q: Was your first novel Yellow Star?
A: Yes. When my Aunt Sylvia finally told her incredible story of survival (to me!) in the Lodz Ghetto in Poland, during World War II, I knew I had to write it. I am so glad that the book has done so well, and I’m grateful to my aunt for giving me the gift that became Yellow Star. And thanks to my editor, Margery Cuyler, for giving it a chance.
Q: Your twin sister, Julia DeVillers, is also an author. Did you plan that?
A: No, and it has been so exciting! We’re not competitive – we cheer each others’ successes. (Although I admit I was envious when she got to be an extra in the Disney Channel Movie “Read It and Weep,” which was based on her novel How my Private, Personal Journal Became a Bestseller.) But I’ve gotten to go to cool awards ceremonies, so I’m certainly happy for both of us.
Q: You and your twin have co-authored a book series. How was it working together?
A: Hilarious! So much fun! We’d been thinking about writing a book together, and when the timing was right – we came up with Trading Faces – about identical, but very different, twins who trade places in middle school. The next book was Take Two, the third is Times Squared, and the fourth is Double Feature. We did a twin interview for Simon & Schuster’s website – check it out!
Q: Which twin are you – Payton or Emma?
A: Well, I write the character Emma, but I wasn’t a serious mathlete like she is. Not. Even. Close. And Julia isn’t all “Payton-ish” either. What we do have in common is that we are best friends, just like the twins in the series.
Q: Tell us about your book MindBlind.
A: It’s about a profoundly gifted fourteen-year-old boy who has Asperger Syndrome. I was a special ed teacher years ago, so I had some experience with unusual kids. But nothing could prepare me for my son, who is extremely gifted with mild Asperger.
MindBlind is fiction. My son was only eight whent he book came out, and I definitely did not want to exploit his or invade his privacy. So there are things inspired by him, but most of the story is made up. Especially the mean father. Who is not like my husband, who is a great dad. But the math and science and “Amazing Race” and many of the mother/son interactions are based on real life.
Q: What’s Cordially Uninvited about?
A: It’s about a girl named Claire, who feels invisible in middle school, but she has a BIG secret. Her cousin Belle is marrying the Prince of England – and she’s a junior bridesmaid in the wedding! Claire and her mom head to London for the royal ceremony, where a whirlwind of activities awaits!
Q: What do you do when you’re not writing?
A: Homeschool my son – (we love homeschooling! It’s just right for us.) Readreadread. Hang out with friends. Take naps. Scrapbooking.
Q: Who else is in your family besides your twin?
A: My younger sister Amy lives in Arizona with her husband. She has her M.B.A. and does interior design. My mother, Robin Rozines (world’s best Grandma!), lives only ten minutes away from me…we’re lucky.
Q: What are some of your favorite books?
A: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. I also love Jane Austen’s, Chaim Potok’s and Julia DeVillers’ books (really!). I read all kinds of books – fiction, non-fiction, thrillers, sci-fi, chicklit, literary and on and on and on.
Q: Best thing about being an author?
A: Doing author visits at schools and talking to kids all over the country. Meeting other authors-amazing! The day the new book arrives at my house is always exciting. I love seeing the real book for the first time. Especially since I have cover designers like Paige Pooler, Alex Ferrari, and Lucy Ruth Cummins!
Movie: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Place visited: Israel, Nantucket
Food: bagel with cream cheese and lox
Sport: tennis, swimming
Animal: guinea pig
Book character: Millicent Min, Girl Genius (Lisa Yee), and Papa (Yellow Star – okay, he was my uncle, but he’s still a hero!)
Place to spend time in: libraries and bookstores