writer on a journey
I've known from the second grade that I wanted to be a writer, but I haven't always known what I wanted to write. My journey has included a BA and an MA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University; working in the catalog department of the public library in Portland, Oregon; and various temp jobs. Along the way I've tried my hand at many kinds of writing, but the historical novels I've written for young adults have brought me particular joy.
I grew up in California's Santa Clara Valley. When we moved there I was five years old, and the valley was filled with fruit orchards. The house I lived in was a big, eccentric place, built in part by my father and his friends. It had a huge brick fireplace and a long wall filled with built-in bookcases. I used to sit in a recliner beside the bookshelf and read, and from time to time I would look up and study the spines of my parents' books, and wonder what they were about.
I come from a book-loving family. My grandmother worked at the Library of Congress during the 1940s and later owned an antiquarian bookshop. My mother was a school librarian for many years and always brought home wonderfully written stories, many of them set in other eras.
I was a writer from an early age. I wrote stories, poems, and plays; I wrote them for school and I wrote them on summer vacation. My grandmother gave me a portable typewriter for Christmas when I was twelve. After that, it traveled with me on every camping trip we took. I would sit at a picnic table, under evergreens, and turn our humdrum vacations into tales of heroic rescues or martyred pets.
By the time I was in high school, the fruit orchards in the valley had given way to housing tracts and electronics plants. One night, when I was sixteen years old, our funny old house burned to the ground. A few days later we walked through the rubble to see what could be salvaged. Little remained: the remnants of the stove, the piano keys, and hundreds and hundreds of scorched books strewn among the ashes.
So the place I grew up in is now gone. Of course, so are many of my favorite places, including colonial Connecticut, Spanish California, and Restoration London. But the books I read when I was growing up are still with me, and will be with me forever.