It was a 1960-something Opel, which I bought from my next door neighbour for $1. I found 26 cents in the glove box, and thought I’d got a bargain. It was covered in rust, its driver’s side door was welded shut from a previous accident, and had dinner plate-size holes in the floorboards. To get into the driving seat I had to shimmy over the emergency brake from the passenger seat, and couldn’t wear shoes when it rained because the water sprayed up through the holes to douse my legs. My, how I loved that car!
What was the first thing you learned to cook?
Cookies! My Mom makes delicious cookies at Christmas – cut out cookies, butterballs, peanut butter cookies. I have wonderful memories of frosting the cut out cookies with my Mom and my little sister.
When was your first time on an airplane?
Infancy. My Dad worked for NASA so I was born in Houston, and then moved to Florida near Cape Canaveral, and we would fly north to New York to visit family at the holidays. The first flight I remember though was when I was four or five. I got to meet the pilot and he gave me a pin with wings on it.
What was your first paying job?
Babysitting. I looked after two really nice neighbourhood children every Tuesday while I was in high school so that the parents could go bowling. I arrived at 6:30, and the kids were supposed to go to sleep at 8pm, but they couldn’t tell time on regular clocks, only the digital one in the kitchen, so as soon as the parents left, I’d move the clock ahead an hour and put them to bed. I feel bad about it now - those poor children probably still get confused about time!
How old were you when you had your first kiss?
Age fifteen, on a hayride. We were playing spin the bottle and in the circle were about half a dozen boys that made lovely candidates for a first kiss. It was my turn. I spun. It landed on my best boy friend, Jim. I was so disappointed!
What was the first concert you went to see?
Billy Idol and Duran Duran at the Syracuse Carrier Dome with my older cousins. I felt like such a grownup! I had the greatest outfit too – a teal blue one-piece jump suit and dangly fish earrings. Oh yes, I was a style icon all right.
When/what was your first regrettable hairstyle?
I’m not sure that I ever regretted a hairstyly but my parents certainly did. In school, I used to blow dry my fringe straight and curl the rest of my hair into what I thought of as ringlets. My mother said it looked like I had sausage rolls on my head. And my Dad hasn’t liked a hairstyle since I was about 9.
I was very very late to computing. I used them at work but my very own, unshared computer was a MacBook Air I got about 5 years ago. I wrote my first 3 books on a shared computer.
What was your first big purchase?
A camera that I saved all summer for my freshman year in university. I was working 3 jobs – a very bad waitress, babysitting, and as a pharmacy assistant. I wanted to buy three things: the camera, a real gemstone necklace, and a trip to New York City (where I would use my camera and find my necklace). I had an envelope for each one that I stuffed money into. I did get all three by the end of the summer. I still have the necklace (aquamarine stone with a tiny gold chain).
What was the first book that made you cry?
Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
Where was your first road trip?
Visiting California with my two friends after university.
Who was your first best friend?
Amy Sullivan, best friends since age 6!
When/where was your first trip abroad?
1991 with three girlfriends – we spent two weeks visiting London, Paris and Berlin. I came back and knew I’d live abroad. In 1997, I packed my bags and have been here in London ever since.
Who was your first love?
Chucky Wilson (sorry to out you Chucky!).
Who was your first celebrity crush?
Davy Jones. I was sure he was going to marry me.