Did you want to be a writer when you were a kid?

No. I didn't even know what a writer was. In kindergarten I wanted to be a fireman, and in second grade I wanted to be a tap dancer.  But once I learned how to read, I started writing and never stopped.

What did you look like as a baby?

That baby on the left? That's me. Keep in mind that every grownup you've ever met was a baby once, and most of them probably had bald heads.

Why is your name so strange?

Valiska (Vuh-LESS-kuh) is a Slovak family name, and it doesn't seem strange to me because I've had it all my life. My father was born in Slovakia.  My mother's mother came from Poland and her father came from Bohemia.  My father is the little boy standing on a chair next to his mother. When he came to this country through Ellis Island, he couldn't speak a word of English.

Do you like to read?

I LOVE to read. When I was four, I even talked the principal into letting me go to kindergarten a whole year early just because I wanted to learn how to read as soon as I could.

Do you have any pets?
Yes, I have a dog named Macduff.  He is a Sealyham terrier whose favorite toy is a yellow bumblebee.  Macduff is smart, mischievous, lovable, and very very nosy.  My husband and I have two wonderful daughters and three bonny grandchildren.  When our daughters were children, they had a great
many pets—a dog named Lucy, some goldfish, hamsters, and even hermit crabs.  Once they had a HUGE lop-eared rabbit.  In the photo the rabbit is just a baby only 5 months old.  As a grownup, he was twice as big as he is in the picture.  He weighed 18 pounds and was bigger than our dog.  (I am not making this up.)  In some of my books you'll find a hamster named Norman Noggs and a rabbit named Benjamin who are suspiciously like certain pets and children I have known.

Where do you get your ideas?

Everywhere—really!  But here's the trick:  make sure you do not miss a single thing.  Find as many interesting things to put inside your head as you can, so you'll have plenty of interesting things to write about.  Do you see that picture of Macduff on the left?   That part was easy.  But did you miss anything?   Did you notice those lavender flowers?  Did you see the green parsley in that flower pot?   Did you wonder what Macduff is sniffing?   (It was an ant, but it might have been something else.)  Make sure you save all the things you see and read and do and wonder and think about.

  1. Then ask yourself, what if . . .?

Where do you live?

I live in Indianapolis, Indiana in a red brick house with a blue garage and lots of bird feeders, but I grew up in Chicago.  My mother, father, and two brothers lived in an attic apartment that my father built at the top of my grandmother's house.  It was great—half of my aunts and uncles lived downstairs, and I could see my grandmother any time I wanted.

Do you have to go to college to be a writer?

You don't have to, but I think it's a very good idea. School is a good place to learn lots of things, and the more you learn, the more things you'll have to write about. I was the first person in my family to go to college. My father and most of my uncles worked in the steel mills and oil refineries and my mother and her sisters worked as maids in Chicago hotels. My parents both had to quit school after they finished the eighth grade to go to work to help their families, so I felt very lucky to be able to go to college on a scholarship.

Why did you become a writer?

I think I ended up as a writer partly because of my father's stories. Each night before we went to bed, my father would tell my brothers and me stories that he made up himself. I loved his stories. One day he told me that if I learned how to read, I could have all the stories I wanted, so I did, as fast as I could, because the more you read, the easier it gets.  And since reading and writing go together like peanut butter and jelly, I've been writing my own stories ever since.

How old are you and do you have gray hair yet?

I am old enough that the candles on my November 3rd birthday cake set off the fire alarm.  And if you really want to know, I am as old as the Statue of Liberty, minus the year the Liberty Bell first rang, divided by the number of ears you have, plus the number of paws on two bears, minus the number of eyes on a Cyclops, plus five.  My hair is mainly light brown and gray and looks a little like the fur of an eight year old cocker spaniel.

Site Map

©2010 Copyright Valiska Gregory. All rights reserved. Please ask permission before using material on this site.