About Me

I’ve loved reading as long as I can remember. On family vacations, I used to pack an extra bag just to carry my books.

Even so, I didn’t always want to be a writer. Until I was eleven, I wanted to be a doctor. Then I took my first biology course and realized how many facts I’d have to remember. I decided I’d rather have a job where I could make stuff up.

When I finished college, I moved out to Los Angeles and got a job writing for a TV show on HBO. When my wife got a job offer in London, I followed her to the UK. Our plan was just to stay for two years—but that was in 2002 and we’re still here.

Since moving to Britain, I’ve done all kinds of writing. I wrote or co-wrote four books aimed at adults.  My work has appeared in The New Yorker and I’ve been a freelance contributor to The Onion. I’ve also written some radio and film scripts that didn’t get made, as well as a few TV scripts that did.

I started writing children’s books in 2005. It took more than a decade of writing, rewriting, and rejection, but my first children’s book is coming out in 2017, with more to follow in 2018 and 2019.

Quick Facts

  • I’m very absent-minded. Once when I was in high school, I tried for several minutes to write with my right hand, growing more and more frustrated, until I remembered that I’m left-handed.
  • My favorite food is bread pudding. On my birthday, instead of a cake, I always ask for bread pudding with candles stuck in it.

  • My great-grandfather moved from Poland to Austria. My grandfather and my mother moved from Austria to America. I moved from America to the UK. That makes me a fourth-generation immigrant.

My mom, age 5 ½, and her mom, two years after their arrival in America.

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  • Every time I start a project, I make a new playlist to listen to while I write. From then on, every time I work on that project, I listen to the same songs. After a few days, I’ve conditioned myself so that as soon as I hear the first song, I’m in the mood to write.

My playlist for the first Hyacinth book. It includes songs about rivers, songs about London, songs by Londoners, and one or two songs that just feel like they belong.

  • As a kid, my favourite writers included Lloyd Alexander, Joan Aiken, CS Lewis, Robin McKinley, Roald Dahl, Ellen Raskin, Daniel Pinkwater, Beverly Cleary, Edward Eager, Sid Fleischman, Susan Cooper, Judy Blume, and Diana Wynne Jones.
  • In my teens, I started reading comic books, and became a huge fan of writers like Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and Scott McCloud.
  • Growing up, I had a dog named Phred. If you said, “Hellooooo” to him, he would try his hardest to say it back, although it always came out as “Erroooo.”
  • I used to be able to turn both feet entirely around so that my toes touched behind my back. (I wouldn’t recommend you try this. I now have bad knees and I think it’s from turning my feet around!)
  • Young Jacob

  • A family trip to Egypt when I was a teenager

  • My high school trivia team competing on a Washington, DC-area game show. (Don’t all high schools have trivia teams?)

  • With my parents the day I graduated high school. You can tell from everybody’s hair that it was a windy day!

  • How I look today.