Jill Santopolo

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"I grew up in Hewlett, New York with my parents, two sisters, various fish, birds and dogs, and a large amount of books. When I was three, I wrote my first story. It was about a magical cat named Stacey who turned people into mats. It was not particularly good, but I had a great time writing it-or so I'm told. I illustrated it, too. Looking at the pictures now, it's kind of hard to tell the difference between the cats, the people, and the mats.

I loved reading just as much as I loved writing-especially mysteries about Nate the Great, the Boxcar Children, the Bobsey Twins, Cam Jansen, Encyclopedia Brown, Einstein Anderson, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. I also loved the There's Something Queer books by Elizabeth Levy. So when I found out Elizabeth Levy was going to visit my school, I was so excited that I wrote a book for her (my friend drew the pictures)-it was called "There's Something Queer in the Auditorium'. I've never been a very good speller, so I actually wrote "There's Something Queer in the Ataroryum', but Ms. Levy got the idea. I guess you could say that's the first mystery I ever wrote.

Throughout middle school and high school, I kept writing. I wrote short stories, poems, plays, essays, and articles for the school newspaper. And when I wasn't writing (or dancing or acting or singing or playing the flute or hanging out with my friends), I was reading. In fact, I loved reading so much that I majored in English literature when I went to Columbia University. While I was in college, I also started working for a publishing company.

Then, after graduation, I got a job editing children's books. A few years later, I decided that I wanted to study writing some more, so I applied to Vermont College to get a masters degree in writing books for kids. At around the same time, Scholastic decided to publish the books I wrote about Alec Flint. So now my world is filled with the books I edit, the books I study, and the books I write. Even though I live in a small apartment in New York City, I have seven big bookshelves. One of them is dedicated to books that I've written and edited. And the first book on that shelf? My faded, battered copy of Stacey the Cat."

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