In the chaos of my childhood all I could think of was escape from the quarreling and occasional violence that filled my home. Books were a wonderful escape for me. I’d climb up high in a tree with a book, and read there till the house fell quiet and it felt safe to come down again.
One magical summer when I was ten, I was ignored so much that I ran wild. But instead of setting the neighborhood on fire, or passing the time with some other mischief, I went nutty making up stories to act out with the neighborhood kids. I made costumes out of newspaper, aluminum foil, leaves and flowers. Then I’d knock on all the neighbors’ doors on my street, inviting them to our show. Looking back, I’m stunned that they bothered to show up. But they always did. They laughed and clapped at us kids, and the ridiculous story lines I made up for their entertainment. This, too, became my escape.
During my teen years, dancing lessons lit a fire in me. I had talent, and I learned quickly. My first job as a professional dancer was at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. I read comic books at break time, stood in movie lines on days off, and lost sleep at night with my nose buried in a novel, turning one more page, just one more page.
I married the love of my life! Fast forward to having children to raise, and bills to pay. I sang some, acted and modeled some, and worked as a voiceover artist. I taught dance, choreographed musical theater, and had a few crazy years as a singing telegram. But a spinal injury took away my ability to continue. While recovering, I wrote comedy mysteries. And that’s when I discovered I could make people laugh with what I’d written! I could entertain them, and take them away from their troubles. I never looked back. On any day you might find me at my keyboard inflicting high stakes dilemmas on my characters.
It’s traditional to credit writing classes, workshops, and how-to books for developing my natural aptitude for writing. But I suspect the real drive to develop as a storyteller, to pass along the magic, had its pivotal moment when I felt safe up in that tree, traveling the world through fantasies and adventure, daring to believe that I, too, would find my happy endings.
And I did!