I write historical fantasy and southern contemporary fiction for the upper YA/crossover audience. I’m currently seeking representation for THE DARKENING, a faerie tale of lost myth inspired by a Celtic murder ballad. I graduated from Vermont College of Fine Arts with a MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and I hold a Certificate of Scottish Studies from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Occasionally, I teach creative writing workshops and classes for teens and adults.
But that is not really who I am.
I am, at heart, a wonderer.
The landscape of my childhood is a big reason why. I’ve lived elsewhere—Kentucky, Scotland, London, Bolivia—but I never feel as settled as when the blue hills of Southern Appalachia hem in my world. For me and the stories I write, place matters a great deal. The natural world and the mountains in particular, are a siren’s call to ramble about, to ask questions and attempt to answer them.
This pull toward all things bright and beautiful has led me, quite contentedly, to the land of Story, especially to tales that, as Lloyd Alexander once put it, “present the world as it should be.”* In other words, stories that show us what we, as humans, can be. Story is like light; it pierces with an unrelenting gaze, highlights every sharp edge and ugly bulge and sensuous curve, exposes the flecks of mica beneath the surface, and illumines the crannies. If we let it.
Writing is, for me, a chance to explore the individual, to navigate the inner landscape of a particular character and have a cracking good time too. It is a chance to choose the type of light source that will best take me beyond the surface and into the depths. It’s an opportunity to decide which caverns to illumine and which to leave a mystery. Because…can we ever truly know a person? Even a fictional one? Isn’t there always something unknown?
For that matter, can we even fully know ourselves?
The heart of this blog then—the desire to understand what makes some stories endure and what makes them artful—is the compass that directs my own compulsion to create. Ever pointing north, ever leading the way forward, it helps me forge trails through the quagmires (my capricious imagination) and up to the cliff’s edge of discovery.
So if I could offer you a marshmallow stick and a mug of something steamy, I would. This virtual place is no water cooler, my friends. It’s a backwoods campfire fueled by the sharing of ideas. So please toss in some twigs from time to time. All bits of wisdom, questions, and musings welcome.
I’d love to wonder (and learn!) with you.
*From Lloyd Alexander’s essay “The Flat-Heeled Muse,” Horn Book Magazine, 41 (April, 1965) 141-146. http://archive.hbook.com/magazine/articles/1960s/apr65_alexander.asp Also reprinted in Children and Literature: Views and Reviews. Virginia Haviland, ed. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1973. 241-245.