Growing up I was the purple sheep in my family. They couldn’t accept the parts of me that were different from them, so they tried to change me.
My family dressed and acted like they’d stepped out of a Brooks Brothers catalogue, whereas I was already dressing in crazy colors, which culminated with me wearing glitter everyday on my eyes and a glitter stripe down my nose. (My brother once refused to go out with me until I changed my clothes. I left the house without him.) My mother had been grooming me for the Ivy League since the third grade, so at 13 when I told her that I was going to quit school at 16 and go to LA to become an actress and a singer her reaction crushed my spirit. “If you pursue music instead of going to Harvard or Yale, I will kill myself.”
I dimmed my own light to save my mother’s life.
Eventually I did defy her and go to LA, and she lived, but I was out of place there too—too educated, not willing to sell out to make it etc.
For over a decade I tried to fit in where I didn’t belong, until by accident, if you believe in accidents, I found my realm, the realm of folks who write for kids. For the first time ever, the parts of me that had been rejected by my family and the music and film industries were celebrated. For the first time ever, I felt comfortable in my own skin.
That’s when I started writing fantasy and sci-fi books that empower kids to embrace what makes them unique. Because when you’re comfortable in your own skin, you help bring your community together, instead of breaking it apart.
Currently, I’m working on two books.
The one that’s almost done is a science-based fictional graphic novel for girls aged 9-11. Hidden Heroes follows superhero Estrogen as she battles biological forces determined to prevent twelve-year-old Samantha from becoming a woman, and Samantha herself as she faces the challenges of her changing body, which includes bullying and the dreaded first bra shopping trip. Ultimately, acceptance saves the day.
The other one is a middle grade epic fantasy novel entitled The Lady In Waiting. Twelve-year-old Luci doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps as the next Lady of Dreamspree, but wants to be a Sage instead. (The most powerful and helpful magick workers in the realm.) A lack of acceptance between mother and daughter, between Dreamspree and another realm, and within Luci herself, sets up a chain of events that threaten to destroy the whole region.
I suppose a life spent acquiring the tools of acceptance, and seeing the joy and peace of mind that occurs every time we manage to accept a piece of ourselves or someone else, is what inspires me to write my books.
My creative attempts to explain puberty to my terrified nine-year-old stepdaughter is what turned into Hidden Heroes. That along with experience as a college sexuality/contraceptive counselor, and the manager of a gynecological office.
As for The Lady In Waiting, having a mother who pushed me to be President of the U.S instead of going into the arts definitely triggered that book, though I didn’t realize it until the first draft was done.
Besides being a writer, I’m a bit of a helicopter doggie mama to Odin,
co-rep for a chapter of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and the chapter organizer of The Patronuses, a Chicago chapter of the Harry Pottter Alliance.
I collect art, worship movies and travel, and used to sing in front of others, but now sing in the car with my husband. My favorite thing I own is my bed.
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