I’m a caffeine addict - I prefer my caffeine in the form of mochas (like Jo Fournier), although I’ll often have lattes or regular coffee to cut back on the sugar. I also love to try different teas. When I need something cold, my favorite is Diet Coke, although I love a sugar-free Rockstar (like Chris Lopez) as a special treat. My doctor says they’re poison, but I’m not giving them up completely until I see the data on that.  

M.M. Chouinard

M.M. Chouinard

I’m an animal lover - I love all animals, although I do admit when it comes to the ones that live in my house, I prefer the furry, four-legged type. I have four cats and a dog, which sounds like a lot, because it is. We intended to have two cats only, but when we went to adopt them, there were three fluffy little siblings together at the animal shelter, and I couldn’t bear to leave one alone. So, that made three. Then we found a tiny kitten abandoned by its mother in our backyard, which brought us to four. Then my husband found an abandoned dog on the way to work one morning and voila—I’ll never have a clean house again.  

I attract animals when I go on vacation - Right in line with #2, whenever I go away on vacation, I end up feeding some sort of animal. It’s never intentional, but it always happens. Reindeer and salmon in Alaska. Feral iguanas in Mexico. Feral chickens in Kaua’i. Sparrows and goats in Paris (no, you didn’t read that wrong—goats in Paris. But that’s another story).   

I’ve climbed both a volcano and a glacier, and will never do either again - In both cases, I figured the hike/climb would be better for us than just flying up in a helicopter. I’m so glad I did it—I learned a lot about the landscapes and natural formations that result from these wonders. But, I almost burned my foot off in a flow of lava, and my husband almost slipped into a crevice in the glacier. Next time we’ll take the helicopter. 

I have a ph.d in research psychology & helped found the University of California, Merced. - I’ve always been fascinated by what makes people tick—I picked up an issue of Psychology Today when I was eight. I got my undergraduate degree from U.C. Berkeley and my Master’s and Ph.D from Stanford University, and my area of expertise is in developmental psychology, how children learn and remember.  I was one of the founding faculty members when the University of California opened their tenth campus, U.C. Merced, and have published research in my area of expertise. And, of course, my studies have come in very handy in my books.  

I have zombie apocalypse survival skills - No, really. I know how to open cans without can openers, how to start a fire without matches, and how to weaponize a zombie. I have excellent aim and training in both archery and knife-throwing.  

I’ve traced my family genealogy back to Charlemagne - To be fair, I only had to trace my line back ten generations, and at that point I discovered one of my ancestors was a documented, legitimate descendant of Charlemagne (the work had been done by professional genealogists, and was published in journals). He’s my 42X great-grandfather, which I’m pretty sure means I should go out and by myself a rhinestone tiara or something.    

I’m obsessed with Halloween- I start planning my costume months in advance, and I love decorating for the neighborhood kids. I love a good scare, and I love an excuse to be whatever/whoever I want for a day. But, the thing I love most of all about it I the trick-or-treating—not going, but handing out candy. I love that one night a year there’s a social contract that we’ll give a piece of candy to any child who asks for it, no matter their race, religion, or creed, and we keep the streets safe that night for strangers’ children as well as our own. I wish we could have more of that type of community spirit and generosity throughout the year.  

The Tasmanian Devil is my spirit animal- I’m sure this goes hand-in-hand with my Halloween obsession, but if I could have a little Tazzy as a pet, I totally would. There’s just something that speaks to me about a critter who looks like the cuddliest teddy bear you’ve ever seen, but who, if you come too close, will chew off your face. There’s a life lesson in there, I think.  

feel naked without a book- Probably not surprising for a writer, but I break out in figurative hives if I don’t have a book with me. Luckily, thanks to digital books, anytime I have my Kindle or my smart phone, I don’t just have A book, I have ALL the books. Now if I just had more time…