12 random facts about me:
1. I did gymnastics for eight years (but was never very good at it.)
2. I type using only two fingers.
3. I am a picky eater. Among the foods I don't like are: red meat, coffee or anything coffee-flavored, soda or any other carbonated beverage, green foods, mushrooms, cilantro, blue cheese, any fruit ending with the suffix '-berry,' plain yogurt, plain milk, cheesecake, or beans. But I really like chocolate.
4. I get colds about as often as most people do their laundry.
5. My middle name is a boy's name.
6. My first car was a grey 1988 Toyota Corolla. I named it "The Heart of Gold" and painted the words "ROAD TRIP" on it in red.
7. I am embarrassingly bad at recognizing people's faces.
8. I went to summer camp for so many years that I am basically an expert at team cheers, hand-clapping games, and friendship bracelets.
9. Every week during high school, I posted a different quote on my locker, so now I have roughly two hundred quotes lining the walls of my room in my parents' house.
10. I can recite the name of every student in my high school class in aphabetical order by last name.
11. I own more than one hundred original My Little Ponies.
12. I receive so many text messages from strangers that I've started a blog about them: http://theleilatexts.blogspot.com.
I grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts, with my parents and our cat. When I was little, I wanted to grow up to be a writer, actress, or singer. The writing part turned out to be easiest to accomplish, since it turns out I can't really carry a tune, though I can do a mean karaoke rendition of "Hey Mickey."
I wrote and illustrated approximately one million picture books when I was in elementary school, all of them about unicorns or cats or princesses, or princess unicorns who were best friends with princess cats. When I was seven, I wrote a longer story about quintuplets named Marissa, Larissa, Clarissa, Melissa, and Alyssa. The quintuplets were not princesses, but they did get invited to a royal ball.
During middle school and high school, I wrote five upublished YA novels. Sometimes I stopped writing for long enough to do my homework, like the time I wrote a picture book about German Unification for history class.
I went to college at the University of Chicago, where I majored in psychology. I also performed in Off-Off Campus (the U of C's improv and sketch comedy troupe), competed in debate tournaments all over the world, helped judge the world's largest scavenger hunt, and wrote a humor column for the school paper. And I wrote another unpublished YA novel, for which I was awarded the Olga and Paul Menn Foundation Prize for Fiction Writing.
After graduating, I got a job at a children's book publishing company in New York City, where I happily remain to this day. My first YA novel was published in 2010, and since then, I've just kept working on more. During the daytime I read other people's books, and during the nighttime I write my own. What more could I need?
For more biographical information, visit my Simon & Schuster author page.