All About Lisa Graff
I grew up in Big Bear, California, which is a ski resort town on top of a mountain (where there are no bears). One day when I was eight years old, I was whining to my mother that I was bored and she told me to "go write a story or something." An hour later I produced a five-page picture book entitled The Strangest Flower, chock-full of spelling mistakes and truly terrible crayon drawings of flowers floating in midair. I still have it.
I continued to write as I grew up, and I loved creating stories and plays. My brother and I even occasionally performed melodramas we'd written for our friends and family (I always played the villain, twirling my mustache with sinister glee). But despite all of that, it never occurred to me that I might grow up to be a writer. My favorite subjects in school were math and science, and I wanted to be a doctor.
I kept up my writing through high school and college, just for fun, and most of what I wrote was for children. While I was studying abroad in Italy my junior year of college, one of my professors helped me translate a children's novel I'd written. That was an invaluable project for me—not only did it improve my Italian skills immensely, but it forced me to examine, in excruciating detail, every word I'd put on paper. That up-close look at my writing made me realize two very important things: one, my novel was awful, and two, I really loved to write. After I graduated from UCLA, I packed up my belongings and headed off to New York, where I began classes at The New School, to earn my MFA in Creative Writing for Children.
After working for five years as an associate editor at Farrar, Straus & Giroux Books for Young Readers, I now write full-time from my home in Pennsylvania. In addition to the books listed here on my website, I write novels for teenagers, under my pseudonym, Isla Neal. I also work as an adjunct professor, teaching a course in Children's Literature at McDaniel College. In my spare time, I like to snuggle with my (slightly insane) cat, Henry, watch cheesy movies, and bake yummy cakes. You can find some of my favorite recipes here!
My snazzy official headshot.
I always wear brightly colored socks. I think white socks are boring.
I collect cheesy plastic snow globes from places I've been all over the world.
My favorite food is raspberries.
I have trouble telling my left from my right, and I'm just awful at reading maps.
My favorite number is 25.
I love playing board games, particularly Cranium and Scattergories.
I am very bad at crossword puzzles.
I often use too many exclamation marks!!!!
I like to make lists.
I am terribly forgetful.
When I was four, I wanted to legally change my name to Lisa Graff, Great Scientist.
Finding my books in a library is very exciting!
My brother and me on the first day of school. I'm going into kinder-garten and my brother is starting third grade.
Signing books at Books of Wonder in New York City.
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My cat, Henry, is adorable, but bonkers.