My favorite way to get to know a new someone is to ask them, “Tell me three things about yourself.” I figure turnabout is fair, so here are three (true) things about me.
Thing The First:
I am a water person. I am happiest when I am in, on, around, in proximity to, thinking or dreaming about WATER. I swim, scuba dive, sail, wakeboard and slalom ski, Nordic and downhill ski (frozen water), dabble, paddle, kayak (sea and river), outrigger paddle, stand-up paddleboard (latest passion), drift, float, snorkel, surf (on the SUP), wade, plish, roll around in… you get the picture. I was a river guide in the Western United States for seven seasons, and I have the great good fortune to live right on the banks of a wild and scenic section of a beautiful river in Oregon.
Thing The Second:
Even though I have been paid actual money to: ride and train Morgan horses, fight fires, guide people down rivers, act in plays on the stage, serve food and beverages in various places reputable and rather not, clean houses, write, edit the writing of others, teach skills from kayak rolling to public speaking, assist people wiser and more experienced than I at the university where I got my second MFA, teach indoor cycling classes, do voiceover work, and myriad other jobs that have kept me out of debtors’ prison, one thing I love to do so much—cheerfully, gratefully, and for no money at all—is SING.
I had a brief and unsuccessful stab at being an opera singer but I am lucky to still get to use my big voice whenever my choir needs a mezzo-soprano soloist. Oh, and I sing for a couple of local churches. And now I’m learning to be a jazz vocalist—so very fun!
Thing The Third:
I love to read. I am a writer because first I was a reader. And, while, yes, I am influenced by the writers I read as an adult, what made me want to write were the books I read when I was a kid. My mom always bought me books, which I’m sure helped form me into a writer. (Thanks, Mom!)
Here are some of the ones I love-love-loved (and still do):
The Bad Child’s Book of Beasts (and More Beasts for Worse Children) by Hilaire Belloc
Not sure why this is one of the first books my mother bought me. Hmm…
Now We Are Six by A. A. Milne
My mom read these poems aloud to me, and she and they taught me to memorize poetry. Although why she often murmured, “There was a little girl…” in my direction, I cannot imagine.
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
I loved every single kid’s book Roald Dahl wrote, but this one grabbed me the most. A humongous peach that you climb up on and fly away from home, and can eat at the same time? Come ON! Perfect!
The Treasure of the Isle of Mist by W.W. Tarn
Okay, this is a fabulous book! Read it. Just read it now. (Then you will understand why I love books where adults do not solve the problems and why I do not trust fairies.)
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Swords. Talking horses. A world you get to through a wardrobe. Freedom, treachery, responsibility, and enormous love. It has everything and wow—did it make me want to write stories.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Oh, Jo March. I was surprised/relieved/pleased to realize Alcott had written somebody just like me into a book well before I was born.
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
This five-book sequence cemented my love of fantasy and my absolute belief in books that tell epic stories of good and evil—and of the ability of kids to solve epically bad situations for the good of the world.
P.S. You’ll note I put in links to Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon instead of links to a certain other online bookseller. Support your local independent bookstore, okay? Go in, talk with real people, and get their recommendations. It’s way funner than being on a computer. And walking around and breathing fresh air is good for any reader. Really.