I have been writing since I was 12. I told stories before then, to anybody who would listen, but in the summer after I turned 12, I began having trouble keeping all the stories straight and decided to start writing them down. Since then, I've spent a good deal of every day writing.

I wrote historical fiction, because, being 12, I had precious few stories of my own. History seemed to me then, as it still does, an endless fund of material. I liked novels, because they were long and wide and deep. Every once in a great while, I try to write a poem, and, now and then, I write a short story, but I prefer novels.

When I was in college, I took a creative writing course, mostly to get a sure A. I wrote several little college girl stories for the teacher, poet William Meredith, until he said, enough already, what are you really interested in? and I showed him the beginning of the novel I was trying to write. He liked that a lot, and, when he left at the end of the semester, the next teacher, short story writer David Jackson, liked it also, and they encouraged me to finish it, and David took it to an editor friend of his at Atheneum. They published it as The Firedrake, in 1966. I had just dropped out of graduate school at Columbia to go to work at Bretano's bookstore in midtown Manhattan for $53 a week.

Since then, I have written a lot, read a lot, raised my 3 wonderful daughters. I live in northern California, in the country. Once a week, I teach creative writing at Pelican Bay state Prison, 2 hours away in Crescent City, and, every day, I take care of a small menagerie of little animals.

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