Questions for the author

Where did you get the idea for this book?
I was driving through an older section of town and saw two signs: one said "Cadillac" and one said "Motel." The two words just didn't seem to go together because one was the name of an expensive, glamorous car, and the other could have referred to one of the older motels in Florida that are often rundown. That got me thinking about the kind of people who might own and live in a motel called the Cadillac Motel. What if one of them was a little girl? What would she be like? Who would her friends be? And all of a sudden, Evangeline's story was off and running.

Are the people in the book real people who you know?
No, but I guess the characters have bits and pieces of people that I have known or seen or heard about. As for some of the other things mentioned in the book, my daughter had a music box with dancing ballerina in it when she was little, and I've always thought it would be fun to have a ceiling full of stars that light up in the dark, so that's where Angelique's stars came from.

Is Paradise a real town?
No. I made it up, but it is based on typical small towns in Florida that are off the main highways.

How did you get someone to publish the book?
I didn't give up. I kept on rewriting and improving it and sending it out. Then I entered it in a contest that Dutton Children's Books was having. It won Grand Prize! Part of the prize was the publication of the book.

As a kid, were you like Evangeline?
Not at all. I was very quiet and shy in school. Maybe Evangeline is the kind of kid I wished I could be! That's the fun thing about writing -- you can be anybody you want to be.

Did you grow up in Florida?
No. I lived in Maryland until age 11, then Philadelphia for a year, then India, then Maryland again, and eventually in Florida. The story of my early life is on this website under "About the Author."

Were you a good student in school?
I was an A student, for the most part, although I had to work very hard because I went to many, many different schools as I was growing up,

When you were a kid, what books did you like?
I read a lot while living in India because we didn't have a TV (or computers!). One of my favorite books was Little Women. My grandfather gave me a beautiful copy for my birthday when I was five -- long before I could read. It had some wonderful pictures in it, and once I learned to read, I read it over and over.

Did you always want to be a writer?
I have always enjoyed writing. I was one of those kids in school who loved to write reports (yes, I know, not too many people do). Once computers arrived, it made writing so much easier! But I never thought about a career in writing. At first I wrote mainly because it was fun to do, and it was only later that I decided to try to get my stories published.

Where do writers get ideas for books?
Story ideas are all around us. Look at people in the shopping mall or on the street, and make up stories about what their lives are like. Sometimes something you read, or a sign you see, or something someone says will give you an idea. Write them down in a little notebook, and you can go back and look at them for inspiration when you feel like writing a story.

What does it take to be a good writer?
A good imagination and being observant help, but writing, grammar and spelling skills are also very important.

Have you written any other books? Do you plan to write more?
Evangeline Brown and the Cadillac Motel is my first young adult novel. I write articles for magazines all the time, though, and have had a story in Chicken Soup for the Sister's Soul. I am working on another story about Evangeline and Farrell, and a book about a different girl who moves to Philadelphia with her little sister. I will be sure to post on my web site when these books are published and ready for you to read!

What is the most important advice you can give to someone who wants to be a writer?
Two things. Read a lot and pay attention in English class. You will be a good writer if you get a feel for how other people write and learn what you like (and don't like) in a book, and even the best story can be ruined by grammatical errors and misspellings.

Will Evangeline Brown and the Cadillac Motel ever be on TV or made into a movie?
It would be very exciting if it was, so I hope so! I think it would make an interesting and fun movie. I guess it all depends on what the moviemakers think.

I have some other questions. Where can I send them?
I'd like to hear from you! If you have a question, please email it to me at I'll send you an email back, and add your question to this page if I think others might also be wondering the same thing.