I was fascinated by books and stories from a very young age. I remember my mother giving my two sisters and I a choice between listening to her read a story and watching a television program. I voted for the story, and I was outvoted. I also remember my older sister getting a set of Dr. Seuss books when she was learning to read and being desperately jealous that I couldn’t read them myself. And of course there was the pride and excitement that came with my first library card.
I was a reader. That was established early on. I had a secret wish to be a writer, but I didn’t really believe that it was possible. And then a teacher turned that around for me with a fifth grade nonfiction writing assignment. I don’t remember what I wrote, but it was definitely fiction. My teacher, Mrs. Azzolini, pulled me aside and very gently explained the difference between fiction and nonfiction. Then she told me that I was a good writer. Being a writer when I grew up was something I should think about.
Hearing someone, a teacher no less, say my secret wish out loud and tell me that it was possible was a magical moment. I didn’t wait to grow up—I went home and started writing a novel. And I’ve never really stopped.