If you believe Paula Ayer’s parents, she was reading books by herself before she was three years old. She suspects they may be exaggerating, but she does remember spending much of her early years sitting on her favorite purple cushion next to the bookshelf, absorbed in stories of all sorts. By the time Paula was in fourth grade, she had read all the books in her elementary school library, so every week the librarian would walk her to the junior high school down the street, through crowds of intimidating teenagers, to borrow books from their library.
Paula began her writing career several years later on her school newspaper, where her controversial horoscope column was the talk of the hallways. Other early writing accomplishments included a musical adaptation of Beowulf and a play about gerbils. After graduating, Paula defied expectations that she would pursue some kind of quiet, intellectual career by enrolling in the drama program at the University of Calgary. While she never fulfilled her dream of becoming a famous stage actor, her years in theater taught her the value of creative collaboration, along with helping her overcome her fear of making an idiot of herself in front of large groups of people.
After receiving a Bachelor in Fine Arts, Paula moved to Vancouver and spent several years doing administrative work at a university. Sometimes her creative friends would ask her to write or edit things for their cool magazines and websites, and it eventually occurred to her that working with words might be something she could do. Without the nerve to actually try to be a professional writer, she went in the back way, taking a master’s degree in publishing at Simon Fraser University. She later worked as a freelancer—editing cookbooks and academic works, writing reviews and interviews, and crafting promotional copy to sell overpriced DVD sets—before joining the staff of Annick Press. At Annick she has been very lucky to work on a variety of books with talented illustrators, writers, and designers from across North America and the world. She has translated several children’s books from French, edited and art-directed books, contributed to revised editions, helped come up with ideas for new books, and even posed for a last-minute book cover photo.
Paula’s book Ready, Set, Kindergarten!(2015) was written while her daughter was preparing to start school and was inspired by the idea that children develop the skills they need for school through play and everyday activities. Her book Foodprints: The Story of What We Eat (2015) comes out of her longstanding interest in food and the implications of what we eat, and was written to help teens make sense of the crazily confusing information they hear about food. Her latest book, co-authored with Antonia Banyard, Eat Up! An Infographic Exploration of Food (Spring 2017), is a visual approach to the same topic, targeted at a younger audience. Water Wow! An Infographic Exploration (2016), also co-authored with Antonia Banyard, uses vibrantly colored charts, illustrations, and diagrams to look at the many surprising and fascinating facts about water.
Paula lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with her husband, daughter, and an ever-growing collection of stuffed animals.