I didn’t always want to write—as a child I wanted to be a marine biologist so I could hang out with whales. The only creative story my mother kept from my childhood is called My Fish Book. I loved science and collected tadpoles from the pond near my home in Vermont. My biology professor dad also let me keep some of his white lab mice as pets. Later when we moved to Palm Desert, California, I practically lived outdoors, swimming, roller skating, and riding my bike into the desert with my friends. Sometimes we’d see coyotes.
After my parents divorced, I moved to Reno, Nevada with my mother, little brother, and three cats (our fourth cat refused to come!). My middle school years passed in a blur of body changes and boy-craziness. I wanted to be a fashion designer, one that didn’t have to draw or sew (that’s kind of a problem). I didn’t really shine as a student. For one thing, I refused to wear my glasses, so I couldn’t see the board very well (how stupid was that?).
I began keeping a daily diary my sophomore year at Reno High School (go Huskies!). I wish I’d been inspired by a wonderful English teacher, an amazing novel, or my desire to become a writer. But it was a boy—a certain tall, blond, football player, who barely knew I was alive.
Keeping a diary got me writing, but not in a creative, literary way. I didn’t write poems, make up stories, or describe beautiful sunsets. I obsessed about tall, blond boys, complained about my mother, my annoying brother, and recorded my antics with my friends. But I did it every single day. I didn’t know I was becoming a writer.
I did have two wonderful teachers who influenced me. Mrs. Muth allowed me to take a senior level English class as a junior. She told me I could write, but I didn’t believe her. You see, I’d kind of started wanting to write and that scared me. What if she were wrong? What if I really couldn’t do it? Then what? I didn’t really want to be anything else.
I also joined the yearbook staff; I edited the sports section (tall, blond, football-playing, boys). My advisor, Mrs. Forest also complimented my writing. And then we went to a journalism conference in Tucson, Arizona (my birthplace, by the way). Out of hundreds of students, I won third place in a writing contest. Me! My friends and I also took first place in a put-the-panties-on-the-goat contest, beating out some Texas cowboy-types. But I’d been singled out for my writing. My dreams started to grow a little…
I signed up for creative writing my freshman year at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. But the class was full and they put me in biology instead. That turned out okay—because of a certain, tall, dark, soccer-playing boy… I never did take that creative writing class in college, but I majored in English, with a minor in Biology.
After college, I found myself living in Seattle, working as a temp, and dating a very busy tall, dark, soccer-playing medical student. So I signed up for a creative writing program at the University of Washington and proceeded to write some awful stories. But I loved it! I filled notebooks and notebooks with practice writing. I started working on some short stories from a child’s point-of-view. People kind of liked some of those. But I wanted to be a “real” writer and write for adults (how stupid was that?).
I decided to write my first novel when I moved to Salt Lake City, Utah with my even busier medical resident husband. I dug into researching an historical novel. But I got so scared about failing at my dream of becoming of a real writer that I signed up for history classes at the University of Utah instead. I completely stopped writing fiction. I did keep up with my daily diary.
My daughters gave me the courage to return to fiction writing. We were taking a family vacation to Mexico and I wanted my girls to know something about Mayan culture. Again, I dug into the research, but this time I set a writing deadline (so I wouldn’t go and take a bunch archeology classes). I loved creating fiction! If I made a mistake or wrote something stupid, I realized I could change it. Not like when I made a mistake or said something stupid as a mom. (Be nice to your parents, they’re trying.) My daughters weren’t quite old enough to read Jungle Crossing, but I was hooked! I kept writing. My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters came from some of the experiences recorded in my high school diaries.
I now live and write full-time in Utah while my daughters attend school and my husband keeps busy with his pediatric patients. I love spending my days at my messy desk working on novels, and drinking lots of tea. My two big dogs watch me, while my cats sleep, and I take regular breaks to peek in on my daughter’s tortoises. I also love reading, hiking, skiing, cooking, going to movies and rock concerts, and traveling absolutely anywhere!
If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.