Deborah Underwood

About Me

Deborah Underwood

About Me

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I grew up in Walla Walla, Washington. When I was little, I wanted to be an astronomer. (The bear in the photo is named Ursa Major, like the constellation.) Then I wanted to be a singer. Then I wanted to be a writer. Today my jobs are writing and singing. I guess two out of three's not bad!

(Okay, I also wanted to work in a piano factory and paste the labels on new pianos, but let's just ignore that one.)

My dad was a math professor, and my mom taught English. My sister got all the math brains, but some of my mom's word sense rubbed off on me, thank goodness.

After college, I moved to San Francisco and became a street musician. If you're looking for a great way to freak out your parents, tell them you're going to be a street musician when you grow up.
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Then I worked in an office typing memos for accountants. When the accountants weren't looking, I wrote screenplays. I found that if I glowered at the computer screen and yelled, "Criminy!" once in a while, everyone thought I was typing a very demanding memo and left me alone.

I finally decided to write for kids. At first my stories were pretty awful, but I kept trying. They got better in time--but writing sure is a lot of work! Luckily, I have a bunch of great writing friends that help me. We read each other's manuscripts and make suggestions. And whenever I say I'm going to get a job pasting labels on pianos because writing is too hard, they talk me out of it.

I also started writing nonfiction. When a publisher asks me to write a nonfiction book, I usually don't know much about the topic. That means I have to learn fast. Now I know about lots of cool things, like smallpox and orangutans and Easter Island and whether or not it's okay to slurp your noodles in Japan (it is).


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When I'm not writing, you might find me singing in a chamber choir, walking around in Golden Gate Park, or baking vegan cookies. Or possibly acting silly. (Who, me?)





Photos by
John Vias