denise
DOWLING
MORTENSEN
CHILDREN’S       BOOK AUTHOR

© 2013-2015 Denise Mortensen.  All rights reserved. Site design Donna Farrell.

About Me


I grew up in a big old house in Garden City, New York, a suburb of New York City. I was the third of seven children in my family. Our house was a happy, boisterous place—a neighborhood "magnet" of sorts—where all manner of stray animals, people and children gravitated. My mom stayed home. My dad was a dentist. His office was attached to our house. It was always a riot when the "laughing gas" lady came. We would all wait in the living room on the other side of the wall where he worked. When my dad gave her the anesthesia she would laugh so hard we would all fall on the floor laughing ourselves!


My parents loved to read, especially mysteries and books about history and politics. At bedtime they would read to us from great children’s classics like Black Beauty, Hansel and Gretel, and The Ugly Duckling. I can still remember curling up in my father’s warm arms on a cold night as he read "Eldorado," one of my favorite poems by Edgar Allen Poe. I always looked forward to bedtime. With a book I could travel to faraway or dangerous places from the safety of my own little bed!


I never thought about being a writer until high school when my tenth-grade English teacher encouraged me to pursue my budding passion for writing. I majored in journalism in college and later worked at CBS News and the Conde Nast Publications in New York. After I started my family, I began working from home as a proofreader and copyeditor.


It wasn’t until the youngest of my five children was born that I began to think about writing for children. I started to experiment, first with non-fiction, then with poetry. I took an adult education class and joined a children’s writing critique group. I read books about writing for children. Soon ideas were flying out of my head onto paper!


I was thrilled when I sold my first book, Good Night Engines (Clarion, 2003) in the fall of 2000.  Since then, I have sold four more books: Ohio Thunder (Clarion, 2006), Wake Up Engines (Clarion, 2007), a board book/flip book version of Good Night Engines/Wake Up Engines (Clarion, 2011) and Bug Patrol (Clarion, Feb. 2013).


Some days are busier than others but I always try to write every day, usually in the morning. But the beauty of being a writer is that it is a very “portable” job. I can be driving to my son’s sporting event, gardening, or stirring a pot of soup and still be "working" on my next project inside my head!


My children are grown now, but, just like my dad, I spent many bedtimes curled up next to a sleepy child with a good book. Our family bedtime reading rituals were a way for all of us to peacefully unwind and a way for me to connect with each of my children after a long day. Reading was also a way for me to introduce my kids to great children’s literature and spark their love of books.


To me, there is nothing more rewarding and joyful than creating stories that capture the essence and the magic of childhood.  I hope you experience this same joy when you read my books.

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