When I was young, my mom loved to take me along with her to the movies. More often than not we would end up at the foreign movie house where I would spend half my energy speed reading the subtitles and the other half trying to piece together the artsy plot. A special date with my dad often meant dressing up to see a Broadway musical touring the West Coast. The Pantages and the Shubert Theater were venues for performances like Dream Girls, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and Evita. I loved it all. And always I would leave these shows feeling a longing to somehow live that story I had just seen—to be in it and experience whatever excitement it had inspired in me.
Music was another big influence in my childhood. Singing was something that came naturally to me. As a kid, I would sing myself to sleep every night for as far back as I can remember. I guess it only made sense that my voice would be well-developed enough to belt out Tomorrow at the age of eleven—just in time for the Annie movie auditions of 1981. I got as far as a couple of trips to Burbank Studios and a screen test, but my sensitive, slightly introverted self probably wasn’t ready for big screen madness. I did have fun doing several other acting and singing jobs—two children’s albums and a few TV episodes.
But it was books that had my heart. Like many authors often say, I have been writing books since I was old enough to scribble down stories and staple them together. My cover art was a bit lacking, but what I missed in illustrative talent I made up for in creative story ideas and the overuse of exclamation points. As I became an adult, encouragement from teachers and a particular UCLA History professor gave me the confidence to entertain the idea of writing as a profession, but it wasn’t until I was a little older and just slightly wiser that I started to take the idea seriously. I met normal people with normal lives who wrote books. I took a creative class where I met more ordinary people with extraordinary dreams who were determined to let the essence of themselves shine out into the world.
Finally, after the birth of my third child, I allowed myself to really write. The words came pouring out. And now it’s all so clear to me. The persistent feeling that came over me after an inspiring movie or musical? That was the storyteller in me just reveling in the wonder of it all and chomping at the bit to be set free. Acting and singing had assuaged that storyteller for a while, but when I finally released the writer she was happier than ever. And for me, that’s pretty close to happily ever after.