Why is writing important to you and why do you think it's an important medium for the world?
I write for children at a time when experiences and emotions are all ahead of them in life. To write books that connect with the earliest readers when their responses to the world are just forming is a profound gift--and responsibility.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer's block?
Keep the pen moving, the keyboard clicking. Any kind of writing is better than no writing. Eventually you'll shift from making yet another To Do list, another journal entry, another email to whatever is buzzing around in your head, and your fingers will be ready. Chocolate helps, too.

What is your favorite time to write?
Mid-morning and late afternoon.

What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received and would like to impart to other writers?
In addition to writing fiction, I write nonfiction where it's easy to succumb to "research rapture." When I need to get to the actual writing part, I repeat a line to myself from Seamus Heaney's Station Island XII: "You've listened long enough. Now strike your note."

What excites you most about being a writer in today's age?
The illustrations in today's picture books are transcendent! The colors, the inventive techniques--giving breathing space to them in my stories is a challenge and a privilege.

Alexis O'Neill's Jacob Riis's Camera: Bringing Light to Tenement Children is out now with Calkin's Creek.