I was born in Chicago. My favorite things about Chicago were snow, summer lightning storms, and my grandparents. When I was 10, we moved to Los Angeles where there were none of those things. It was too hot. I was grumpy. You can read The Ballad of Lucy Whipple to see how I felt.
I loved books and would read anything I could get my hands on: Little Lulu comic books, Rufus M. and The Middle Moffatt, Homer Price and the Doughnut Machine, Mad magazine and Seventeen and cereal boxes. And I wrote enthusiastically: poems, play, short stories, and even a novel (six chapters in three pages!). I didn’t know anyone else who wrote and certainly no adult who wrote for a living so I never thought about being a writer. I just wrote. For my real job I wanted to be a movie star or a ballet dancer, an archaeologist or a brain surgeon, depending on what book I had just read.
In 1959 I went to college at Stanford University. What a change from Los Angeles. It was the first time I realized I didn’t have to get married and do laundry and spend my life making bologna sandwiches for my kids’ lunches.
Now I live on a soft, green island near Seattle with my husband, Philip, who is a professor. Our daughter, Leah, is a book buyer at Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon. The love of books runs in the family.
I’m now at work on a new book. It took me forty-nine years of preparation—of reading and writing and making up stories in my head—to be ready to write. Now I do not intend to stop.
It seems to me that all that can be said about me has already been said: I started writing at 49, like to write about gutsy girls figuring out who they are, and have no plans to stop writing until I am at least a hundred.
- REALTalk interviewed me for “Karen Cushman on Writing.”
- Watch A Writer’s Place, a video about my inspirations
- The Authors Road: Read this interview, listen to the podcast, and watch the video about Karen Cushman.