Young adult and children's book author

How did your interest in education begin?

My interest in education started when we had our daughters. I am dyslexic and have struggled with reading and writing my whole life. Knowing that our girls could have the same learning challenge as I did put their education in the forefront of our thought process. My own experience had been challenging to say the least. Teachers did not know how to handle kids who learned differently like they do today. I wanted to make sure that our children did not struggle like I had.

How have you been involved in education, professionally or as an advocate, over the years?

Whenever a new book comes out I go into classrooms and talk about what I've written and what it is like to be an author with learning challenges. I love connecting with kids at any age. When you ask students to raise their hands if they struggle with reading or don't like spelling, then tell them that was you too, the smiles you get are priceless. I don't believe there is such a thing as a bad reader, only good readers that haven't found what they like to read yet. If I can get one person to pick up a book and turn a page then I know I’ve done my job.

What one or two education issues are you most passionate about (and why)?

Special needs education, on both sides of the spectrum. I bet you can guess why. The fear of having our children struggle in the classroom turned out much differently then we thought however. My husband and I pursued a lot of early education and tutoring for our girls because of their predisposition to learning challenges, but two of three of our daughters ended up testing into the gifted or challenge program as they called it in the public school system where we lived at the time. This presented a whole slew of different problems we hadn't expected.

Tell us about an educator who made a particularly large impact on your life.

The educator who made the biggest difference in my life was not someone who taught me in a classroom. It is my mother, Judy Runstad. Before pursuing a career in law she was a high school history teacher, a fact that few people know. When I fought with Judy about reading she would put new and different books in front of me until I finally picked one up. She told me to embrace my imagination and follow my dreams. I think my spelling still drives her nuts but she loves me regardless and taught me the best lesson of all, to never give up.

Share an unusual/fun fact about yourself.

When I write action scenes I always eat gummy bears. I don't know what it is, but they are my sweet addiction.