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Mara Bergman

As a child

I grew up in the suburbs of New York City, in the town of Wantagh, which is always mistaken for Montauk, at the other end of Long Island. Wantagh is known as the Gateway to Jones Beach, and Jones Beach – along with New York City – has always one of my favourite places. As a young child I enjoyed writing short plays, which my sister and I would perform for our long-suffering babysitter. At the age of twelve I read a biography of Charlotte Bronte and decided I wanted to become a writer. It was around then that I started writing lots of poems. I also enjoyed drawing and painting and making things, like puppets and dioramas. I played lots of sports, though I wasn’t very good at them, and had a great group of friends.

As an adult

I graduated from the State University of New York at Oneonta, but spent my third year studying at Goldsmith’s College, London. On arrival I immediately fell in love with England. For many years I bounced between London and New York, which got to be really quite confusing, and finally settled in England. I still haven’t lost my accent though, and often people ask me how long I’m here for. I started writing for children when my own three children were growing up and I was immersed in children’s books, both at home and at work. I have been an editor at Walker Books for a very long time. I’m part of the furniture really. You can see more of what I do on my website:

As an artist

I write picture books and fiction for young children, and I still write poetry too. I really enjoyed working on my first fiction titles for Walker Books – Nick Mack’s Good Luck and Sylvie’s Seahorse. I’m always finding four-leaf clovers and I’ve always loved seahorses. My picture books include Oliver Who Would Not Sleep and the three other Oliver books, and Snip Snap, Alligator!, all illustrated by Nick Maland, as well as Glitter Kitty, illustrated by Lydia Monks; Itchy Itch Itch, illustrated by Emily Bolam; Best Friends, illustrated by Nicola Slater, and many others. It's a real thrill to see my words come to life through illustration. I enjoy writing on trains and in cafes, but mostly at home, though not necessarily in my study. It's often too messy!

Things you didn't know about Mara Bergman

  1. I can’t sing and I’ve always wished I could.
  2. I used to want to be a stand-up comic or a magician.
  3. I once rode 100 miles on my bicycle in one day and couldn’t sit down for a week.
  4. I know all the words to the songs of Mary Poppins.
  5. I once taught my turtle to climb stairs.
  6. I also taught my budgie to say “Hello, baby”.
  7. My favourite food is aubergine.
  8. I also love avocados, artichokes and dark chocolate.
  9. I find lots of four-leaf clovers.
  10. And I was born on 29th February, which means I have a birthday only once in four years!

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