I was born in Maquoketa, Iowa, a little town in eastern Iowa.When I was three we moved to Dubuque and I lived there until I was 15. Then I like to say that my father had a midlife crisis, I don’t know if that’s really true, he was a Lutheran pastor and he decided to became a missionary. He suddenly decided, not suddenly, over a series of years, that he really wanted to work overseas.

Maquoketa is known for the caves found in this state park

My father knew he really wanted to leave Dubuque and so we had this choice between going to South America or going to Minnesota. And I was totally rooting for South America because Minnesota just seemed so cold. I mean Minnesota is a lovely state but just having the chance to go overseas to me was really exciting. At that time I really wanted to be a writer and I looked at all my favorite writers life stories and they’d all done really interesting things in their childhood and so I was like this is my chance. I have to do something interesting. So when I was 15 we moved to South America.

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