About Me


I guess you could say I had an unusual childhood. My older brother, Mark, was born with autism (he was one of Dustin Hoffman's models for his role in the movie Rainman), and my dad, the late Dr. Bernard Rimland, was one of the world's leading autism researchers and founder of the Autism Research Institute in San Diego, where I was born in 1958. It was a busy and challenging household to grow up in.

Teen years

When I was a teenager, things got even more interesting. At fifteen, I was diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkin's Lymphoma and spent nearly a month in the hospital. I'm fine now, but the experience made a huge impact on me. I know firsthand that my life on this earth is limited, so now is the time to do the things I care about most.

Education and influences

As a kid, I loved to read. Some of my favorites were the Mary Poppins books, Alice in Wonderland, the Oz books by Frank L. Baum, and the Nancy Drew series. By the time I was in fifth grade, I'd discovered I had a knack for writing. But I also had a flair for acting and decided to pursue theater instead. After graduating from high school, where I performed in all school plays, I was accepted into the Professional Actor's Training Program at S.U.N.Y. (State University of New York) Purchase in upstate New York. I later transferred to the University of Washington, where I earned my B.A. in Theatre Arts.

My writing career begins

It wasn't until many years later, when I was in my late thirties, that I took up writing again. By that time I had begun teaching Creative Dance to preschool children, which is still one of my day jobs (I also work as a Pilates instructor). I coauthored a book about my teaching methods, Movement Stories for Young Children, with colleague Pamela Gerke and then published four more books about teaching dance and drama. I'd been bitten by the writing bug, and I went on to publish two picture books for children.

I discover my passion for YA

In my forties, I finally discovered my true passion: writing novels for Young Adults. Perhaps because my own teen years were so challenging, I feel a strong desire to speak from my heart to young people going through that sometimes frightening, sometimes exhilarating stage of life.

I write in a basement office in my home in Seattle, Washington, which I share with my husband, Steven, our butterscotch tabby, Sunny, our toy Yorkie, Toto, and sometimes with my two stepsons, Dane and Jonathan.

Helen Landalf

Photo by: Steven Bishofsky

Fun facts:

  • Astrological sign: Aries

  • Favorite color: yellow

  • Favorite cuisine: Mexican

  • Favorite dessert: lavender ice cream

  • All-time favorite movie: Harold and Maude

  • All-time favorite song: "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" (the Judy Garland version)

  • Favorite form of exercise: Pilates

  • Favorite way to relax: bubble bath