Five fun and random facts about the girl who became a writer:

1. As a kid, I loved being around books, but didn’t get into them too much. You were likely to find me with one of these in my hands, though. I LOVED GARFIELD! You would think that I would’ve grown up to become a graphic novelist (see #2). Maybe I still will one day.

Freedom Train was the first book I remember not being able to put down. I read it for a fourth grade book report. It was also one of the few book reports that I read the entire story. (Maybe not my best role model moment). It was my introduction to Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, my first glimpse of what slave life was like.

I think I have 20+ Garfield books lurking in my bedroom closet at my mom’s house. Sorry Mom. I’ll come get ’em.
First book I couldn’t put down.
The face of the sixth grade art rebel.

2. Not a great role model here either. My only F in school was in art. Sixth grade. All assignments were homework assignments. I didn’t like them. I didn’t do them. Sadly art and I still do not get along too well. I think illustrators are magical!

Have no fear, parents and educators. I redeemed myself. by becoming my high school salutatorian, even received an A in freshman art. Sometimes we just need a little time to find our way.

3. I grew up in Chicago. Even in this big city in the 70s and 80s you could find square dancers. My dad was a square dance caller. My mom led line dancers. My siblings and I learned by watching and had to fill in when a square was short a dancer. I was pretty good once upon a time. I think I can still do-si-do, swing your partner, and ala-man-left.

Insider info: Square dancing sets the scene for a pivotal moment in my verse novel. Who knew that square dancing could be so dramatic?

I love my siblings, so I will not publicly embarrass them by posting their pic, privately I’ll embarrass them as much as possible. That’s the job of the youngest. But my parents are responsible for this and they get the credit. My two grandfathers are featured in this poem.

4. I’ve got a travel bug. I have yet to make it across the pond, but one day . . .

5. I ❤ theater!

I wish I could act, then I would be able to wear all of those fun costumes, make up, wigs and transform into someone entirely different. Alas, my one time “acting” was in the 8th grade for the school talent show. A group of friends and I decided to put on a skit of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. My friends saw my talent and sat me in a seat with the story and called me Narrator. Eh, it worked. We won. 🙂

I auditioned once, too. What was I thinking! It was for a college performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream. And they were going to perform it in RUSSIA! Remember #4? With my acting chops as they were I decided to play it safe and audition for a fairy (super minor role). It was a spur of the moment decision. I did not read the script ahead of time and totally fumbled my way through, I’m pretty sure I got the name of the fairy completely wrong, too.

Photo at right:

My boyfriend did get a role as Snug the joiner. He may have something to do with my love of theater. He was a theater major (who I did marry down the road and we’re 20 years into our adventure). But my love for theater started at 13 when my mom surprised me with tickets to see Phantom of the Opera at the Civic Opera House in Chicago. I had no clue what they were singing. I didn’t care. I was swept away! (Do you see the pager in my pocket? It was the 90s. Pre-cell phone days.)

Thankfully the director was kind to me. He knew me from a previous play that I stage managed for him. He knew I was much more at ease backstage than on stage and let me be a backstage manager. Alas, that role didn’t get me eating borscht or seeing the Kremlin.

Take me to the theater every night and I’ll not tire of it. But if Shakespeare is right and “all the world is a stage,” then I can just jump right in and enjoy these roles I’m cast in!

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