What can I tell you about myself? I like to make up stories and draw pictures. I like to go ice skating, to the movies and I love reading books.

I was born and grew up in the Bronx, New York. My Mother loved to read so it was only natural that my brothers and I got our own library cards as soon as we were able to print our names. My favorite books were fairy tales. When the pictures didn't match the images that the words had painted in my head, I would cover them up with my hands. I still do that.

I prefer the words to the pictures, which is a little odd since I think of myself as an artist rather than a writer. All of my formal training has been in art. I went to The High School of Art and Design. From there, it was a short skip and a jump over to The Art Student's League, after a brief detour to Hunter College. I spent fifteen years at the Ontario College of Art, teaching others how to draw and paint. It still surprises me to be called a writer.

As soon as I was able, I started to travel. I like meeting new faces and going to new places. One of the nice things about being an artist is that it is a very portable profession. I have lived for extended periods of time in both Europe and Israel.

Shortly after coming to Canada in 1972, I met and married Brian Bender. We have three children, Ingrid, Jason and Melissa, two granddaughters, Ariana and Emily and a cat, Minoo.

It was because of my daughter, Ingrid, that I became an author. When her balloon burst on a tree branch, I wished the tree would magically sprout balloons. It didn't...what sprouted was an idea in my head. Why not write a story about a tree that blossoms balloons? And that's how I came to write my first book, The Balloon Tree.

It is not how I came to be published. That took fifteen years and umpty zillion rejection slips to accomplish.

My advice to any aspiring author is:

  • Get a balloon and let it go.
  • Read. Read. READ!
  • Write. Write. WRITE! (To do anything well takes practice.)
  • Don't give up. Keep on trying.
  • Don't be afraid of criticism. Learn from it.

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