I was in the third grade when I wrote my first short story: “The Haunted Meatball.”
Here it is, some 30 years later – I’m about to have my first novel published and I’m thinking that in some ways, not much has changed. No, I don’t have the Dorothy Hamill haircut, or have to go traipsing down the hall to speech therapy every Thursday to practice my s and th sounds (though to this day, I can’t say the word “thistles”). But the day I learned Potato Girl would be published, I was right back there in Mrs. Brennan’s class, sitting at my desk, grinning ear to ear because my story was the one she chose to read out loud, and she said, right in front of everyone, that it was good.
I’m still writing about haunting and the haunted (though these days, as yet, no ground beef is involved) and I’m still very much in awe of the whole writing thing, and a little suspicious, too, like maybe the words didn’t really come from me. I feel, as I did in third grade, a little like a kid with a Ouija board: like I’m just watching the letters under the stylus, holding my breath to find out what happens next.
I came to fiction from poetry. My first novel (now hidden away in a drawer under lock and key) was an accident: it started as a poem (I was studying poetry in an MFA program), morphed into a short story, and before I knew it, it was two hundred pages and still going. I had no idea what I was doing, but oh, what fun it was. I eventually quit my day job to focus on writing fiction full-time. It actually seems to be panning out – six years, four novels, and two agents later – no problem!
Over the years, I have been a house painter, farm worker, paste-up artist, Easter Bunny, pizza delivery person, homeless shelter staff member, and counselor for mentally ill adults and teens. I have built my own house, explored the country in a VW camper bus, and lived for two years with no phone, electricity or running water.
I live in Vermont with my partner Drea, and our two-year-old daughter Zella, who I am lucky enough to stay home with. When I’m not writing, I’m making octopuses out of play-doh, and reading Richard Scarry.
I’m thrilled about the grog. An old-fashioned (!) personal blog is beyond me – I have zero technical skills, and can’t imagine coming up with something to say on my own every single day (you would soon tire of hearing what I’d made of play-doh that morning). This is much more my speed. Others savvier than I will hopefully swoop in to the rescue when I delete some crucial bit of something, and the responsibility of being witty and relevant is spread out amongst the lot of us. And as my publication date approaches (April 2007 once sounded so far away…), I know I’ll have the support and camaraderie of five other gals who are all in the same boat. So hoist the sail, away we go…
Just don’t ask me to say thistles.