Questions Frequently Asked by Children

Where were you born?
I was born in El Paso, Texas and spent most of my life there. I’m the oldest of four children and grew up in a bilingual home. Now my home is in Santa Fe, New Mexico. My husband teaches archaeology at the University of Cincinnati.

When did you start writing?
Like most people, I began writing when I was in first grade. I’ve always loved to read, and I liked to write poems when I was in elementary school. I remember how happy I was when my parents gave me a portable type writer (no computers then) when I graduated from 8th grade. I liked the feeling of pressing on the keys and typing. I still like that feeling. I didn’t think about being a writer until I was grown-up, and my children were little. All of us, you and I, are writers since we write at school, and we write letters and cards to our family and friends. Some people, though, spend a lot of their time writing. I do. About thirty years ago, I began to spend time working to become a better writer and to have my work published.

How many books have you written?
I’ve written eight books for adults, two poetry books for teens and over thirty books for young readers. I’m always busy writing new books.

Do you get to choose your illustrators?
No. Editors and art directors chose the illustrators. I like it so much when the editors show me samples and ask my opinion though. I’ve never met most of my illustrators, but I’d like to.

Which is your favorite book?
New books make me happy. I always say that my next book is my favorite because that’s the book I’m most excited about. Tomas and the Library Lady is my most popular book. The Rainbow Tulip about my mom in first grade is a very special book to me, but then all my books are special to me.

Have you received any awards?
Because people ask that question quite a bit, we’ve put a list of my awards in the “About Pat” section.

Do you get lonely when you’re writing?
Oh No! I love playing with words and ideas.

Where do you get your ideas?
If you look at my books, you’ll see what interests me, what excites me. I like the desert and all nature: plants, animals, rocks, the moon and stars. I also like families, folktales, special people (like Tomás Rivera and Sor Juana Inés), word sounds and celebrations.

What do you like? If you like jelly beans, try to write three poems about jelly beans. Try to write about a family of jelly beans. How do you think jelly beans sound? Do they speak only one language?

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I enjoy reading, visiting with my family and friends, gardening, cooking, taking walks and traveling. What do you like to do when you’re not writing or studying?

What is one of your favorite things to do?
I like to laugh, and I like to hug. What about you?