My recent projects include the following.

, 2012

The Painted Page
is a middle-grade novel, written for children ages 9-12.  It tells the stories of two children, separated by hundreds of years and thousands of miles, but who together solve a central mystery. 

One plotline is told through the eyes of Oran, a young boy who is a novice in a ninth-century monastery on the island of Iona, in Scotland.  He is witness to the creation of the great illuminated manuscript now known as the Book of Kells; he is also witness to the bitter rivalry between the monks and how that leads to the destruction by Viking invaders of all that he knows.  He rescues one page of the Book from the Vikings and, with the help of a mysterious girl who comes and goes like a vision, he hides the page to keep it safe. 

The main storyline of The Painted Page is set in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas, and is narrated by Rowan Blacklock, a twelve-year-old girl who has just emigrated there from Scotland.  Before she leaves Scotland, her grandmother gives her an old page that has been in the family for generations.  It is then that strange things begin to happen: people seem to be following her, asking about the page; her family gets into trouble with the Customs and Immigration Department and is threatened with deportation; her mother starts falling apart under the stress of the immigration; and she keeps seeing a strange boy dressed in monk’s robes who seems to need her help.  At school, she meets Ben (short for Rabindranath), a recent immigrant from India, and the two of them decide to research the page.  They hope to discover what it is and in the process help Rowan’s mother, get to the bottom of Rowan’s strange visions, and get rid of the Customs officials in one fell swoop.  Instead, they become mixed up with a group of international art thieves and end up uncovering not only the mystery of the painted page but also the painful secrets of Ben’s past.  And in so doing, they risk losing not just the page, but everything they have come to hold dear.

Oran’s story involved a lot of historical research, which I love doing.  If you want to look up the Book of Kells or the Island of Iona, or the Viking invasions of Scotland, the following links are useful places to start.,, and




Peril on the Red Planet
is a play for children that I co-wrote with Mollye Maxner, a choreographer and director, for The Open Dream Ensemble, a group of actors, musicians, and dancers who perform original plays for children in schools around the southeastern United States (  It is the story of Diana, a 13-year-old girl who, facing starvation in the last days of the Mars settlement, is determined to save the only home she has ever known.  She and her robot Abeona embark on a quest for the four carbon crystal keys—the only way to stop Zartok 3, the machine that Diana unwittingly unleashed, the machine that is wreaking havoc on the settlers.  On the way, they meet up with the hilarious Martian police, a group of protestors, a martial arts expert (she also happens to speak in Haiku), and a video game junkie.  Together, they all help Diana find the strength she needs, not only to stop Zartok 3, but also to save the planet she loves.

We were very excited to find out that Peril on the Red Planet was selected by NASA’s Imagine Mars Project  ( to be a featured part of their Imagine Mars program, which enabled Winston-Salem to become one of only four sites in the U.S. for the program.  NASA filmed the 2009 production of the play for use in an upcoming documentary about Mars, and scientists from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have helped teachers in the area develop an Imagine Mars curriculum. 

I had never collaborated with anyone before while writing, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it when I was commissioned to write this play, but it turned out to be a great experience.  The Open Dream Ensemble is funded by the Kenan Institute for the Arts ( and is made up of recent graduates from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (; they are so creative and have so much energy and believe so much in what they are doing, that working with them was terrific.  And I discovered how much fun it is to see something you have written on the page turned to life on a stage. 


The Abbey of Iona as it appears today.


Ben Mor, the highest mountain on Mull.


The Chi-Ro page from the Book of Kells, on which Brother Eunan was working when Oran first arrived on Iona.