My younger sister always wanted to be a writer. When, in the second grade, she wrote a story called “Joey, the Grape” I read it and knew that I wanted to be a writer, too. And many years later, when I wrote a letter to Harper Lee and she wrote one back to me, I was not only certain, but determined to put pen to paper and create stories. In the summer before my twelfth birthday, my family moved from St. Louis to rural West Virginia. It didn’t take me long to realize that I would have enough material to last a lifetime to use in my stories from the heavy Appalachian dialect to the luscious wood setting that circled our house and the winding river that flowed fiercely through the valley, to the politics that dominated our region. And holding in my hands my first published story, I was inebriated with the possibility of living life as a writer. I still read “Joey, the Grape” whenever I tire of finding just the right word, and I still want to be a writer when I grow up.
Under the tutelage (whenever I hear this word I see my older sister playing her flute in our high school marching band -- it always makes me laugh) of writers Pinckney Benedict and Denise Giardina, I learned not just the craft of writing, but its art as well.
With characters like Joey, the Grape and teachers like Benedict and Giardina and melodic notes from a musical instrument keeping me company, I wake every morning wondering what will emerge from the sounds of rapid finger movement traveling around a polished keyboard.