I grew up in Eastern Kentucky where I loved to ramble in the hills, ride bikes, and watch birds. But most of all I loved to read. I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was seven years old. I wrote, revised and illustrated poems and stories throughout elementary school and saved the manuscripts.
I attended the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville where I began writing for adults. I also earned an M.F.A. in creative writing at Indiana University and published poems and stories in literary journals. After I had two children of my own, I started writing stories for younger readers.
MOLASSES MAN, my first picture book, describes how a farm family works together to make sorghum molasses in an all-day process that includes harvesting the cane, cutting and milling it, and then slow-cooking the green juice until it’s a rich, dark syrup. The book was inspired by my hands-on work with Virginia molasses makers, but also draws upon family stories about my great-grandfather. I wrote this story to help preserve and celebrate a traditional rural foodway that’s fading into the past.