More About the Author
The Short Version
Steve was born in London, England. He holds a BA degree in Biology and English from Castleton State College in Vermont. He has worked as a ranger in a number of national parks and is the author of over 25 children's books. His extensive travels to faraway lands such as Africa and treks through Yellowstone have all influenced his book projects. Steve's first mid-grade novel, WIFF AND DIRTY GEORGE, will appear Spring 2010. He lives in Vermont with his wife Heather and a cat named Skittles.
The Long Version
My mother, Lily, had me at Marleyborne Hospital in London, England, at 11 o'clock in the morning on November 8, 1952. My father, William Swinburne, worked on trains delivering mail to faraway places all over England. I think that's where I get my love of trains. I was the middle kid--my brother, Peter was a year older, and my sister, Madeline, a year younger. We lived at 7 Wolsey Road in north London, a poor neighborhood of attached brick houses, narrow streets and endless chimneys poking the sky. During World War 2, a bomb from a German plane made a direct hit on the only pub on our street. One person was killed and the pub was rebuilt into a new pub called The Lady Mildmay.
My best friend on 7 Wolsey Road was a kid named George. Mom considered him scruffy and nasty. She called him Dirty George. I was dubbed Wiff. It seems neither of us cared much for soap and water. When we weren't mucking about the streets, we fought other neighborhood kids. Sometimes we'd chuck stones at each other. Once, a well-thrown stone split open my upper lip.
When I was almost 8, we moved from England to America. Mom, Peter, Madeline and I boarded the Queen Elizabeth in Southampton in southern England on April 20, 1960. We landed in New York City five days later. Southampton was the same port the Titanic departed from on April 10, 1912. They hoped to arrive in New York City on April 15, but the ship struck an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912 and sank almost 3 hours later.
I remember two things about our passage on the Queen Elizabeth: sitting in the swanky dining room being served by waiters in their crisp white uniforms. I looked down at the table setting and saw a 100 knives, forks and spoons. Which ones did I use first? The other memory that stands out was when we were docking in New York City. My mother held my sister in her arms and stood at the rail, leaning over, searching for my father along the wharf. When the ship's horn blasted behind us, my mother jumped nearly spilling my sister into New York harbor far below. What a welcome that would have been!
Age 8 to 17 was a blur of moving houses (my dad liked to switch houses every 2 years), new schools, new friends and fights with my brother and sister culminating in my parents divorce in 1970. All those years I took refuge in listening to The Beatles and writing in journals. I remember yanking the bed sheets over my head, flipping on a tiny flashlight and scratching words into 5-cent journal. I've kept journals and dairies all my life and think it's a great place to fall in love with words.
Growing up, I wanted to be an adventurer, a naturalist or marine biologist. Ever since I can remember, I've put words on paper and I feel so fortunate to make a living writing, exploring new places, learning about the amazing creatures we share this planet with.
I still would like to be an adventurer or marine biologist. One day. And I think a rock star would be kind of cool, too.
Steve holds a bachelor of arts degree in biology and English from Castleton State College, Vt. He has worked as ranger in a number of national parks.
He loves to travel and observe nature and wildlife. A safari in Africa, hiking in Scotland, monitoring sea turtles on a Georgia island, a winter trek through Yellowstone and watching shorebirds in New York have all led to book projects.
He lives in South Londonderry, Vermont, with his wife Heather and daughters Hayley and Devon.
When Steve is not writing and photographing children's books, he loves to sing and play Beatle songs on his Gibson guitar, garden, read, travel with his family and take pictures.
Steve's photography has appeared in magazines such as COUNTRY JOURNAL, VERMONT LIFE, GARDEN DESIGN, FAMILY FUN and HIGHLIGHTS FOR CHILDREN.