While growing up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, my parents encouraged my creativity. I majored in painting at Stanford, but I couldn't figure out how to make a living as a painter, and turned to writing. My first books were picture books and poetry, in which I turned the genres on their heads and mixed elements that aren't usually combined, such as math and poetry (wind x dandelions = white wishes, from Mathematickles).
Now that I write fulltime, I wake up at six and work with my cat muses sleeping and purring on my desk. Generally, I write two to five books at once—fewer when I'm writing novels and compiling teen-written poetry anthologies. When one of my editors first suggested that I write a novel, I thought she was crazy, but I woke up the next morning with an idea. Years later...my first YA novel, Metamorphosis, Junior Year, has been published by Candlewick Press. It's illustrated by my son Tom Franco, and the audiobook is read by my actor sons, James Franco and Dave Franco. Taking the risk of writing a new genre got me to write sketches for my comedy troupe Suburban Squirrel, take drama classes, join an improv group, and write and act in a Judd Apatow-produced video on funnordie.com. I'm now working on a second YA novel that takes place at Stanford and includes some magical realism.
One of my passions is helping students who want to be artists of some kind. In my own family, my three sons are in creative arts—James and Dave are actor/writers, and Tom is a sculptor/illustrator. One that note, I have a few final words for students: Take risks and go for what you want to do, even if it takes a lot of work and creativity to figure out how to do it. In every generation, somebody gets to be a writer, an artist, an actor, a musician, a dancer...why not you?