What's the story behind your latest book?
When my kids were very young I took a class in writing for children, and for one of the assignments I wrote and illustrated a short story called "I Could Eat a Whole Watermelon" about their favourite stuffed animals eating their way into a humongous watermelon. An editor told me that it would be better to write about children, so I created a garden of giant, genetically-engineered plants for my characters to have an adventure in. My boys were in Scouts at that time (a few years had passed), so I wrote "The Mystery of the Giant Kohlrabi" to read to their scout troup around the campfire. I later expanded it into a full-length Middle Grade book.
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Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Cassiar, a small mining town in northern British Columbia that doesn't exist any more. The town had 1200 people when I lived there, and the closest town was Watson Lake, Yukon, 100 miles away. Winter was long, cold and snowy, so I did a lot of reading and writing. My first book, Bill Bruin Shovels His Roof, is set there. The grumpy bear who has to spend the day getting the snow off his roof before he could have a hot, bubbly bath was inspired by my dad, who had to do that job every year.
I used to spend a lot of time in the summer in the mountain forest that grew all around our town, and all of my other books have remote forest settings. A garden of giant vegetables is a forest of sorts, right?