About the Author

I could begin with my schooling, having been part of a pilot program through fifth grade, my limited tenure at a private school until they determined I was, if not a bad influence, a bizarre one (having convinced the fifth and sixth graders to pretend at length to be rabbits from Watership Down), and the subsequent shunting of me into the American education system wherein I made more friends amongst the teachers than my fellow students.

Truthfully, my teachers were my greatest encouragers. Coach Roberts called my parents one day to enthuse over my obviously very good home life, given what a bright and level-headed young lady I was. (This man also used to sing "Amanda" every time I walked into the classroom, so . . .) Mrs. Bason taught Journalism, and under her tutelage I would go on to be both a student newspaper columnist and yearbook editor. (She and I would also go to science fiction conventions together.) Dr. Robertson, my World History teacher, who lived just 'round the corner and had great stories to tell. And of course Mr. Crivello was my English Lit teacher for two years—he and Mrs. Bason in particular were the ones to tell me my writing might actually lead to something one day.

I went away to university with the idea of going into journalism (though my high school debate teacher thought I should be a D.A.), but there was a bottleneck for intro classes, and I was not allowed to take any other classes without first taking the basics, so I switched to Radio-TV-Film. I'd always liked movies and TV, had even at a young age proclaimed I would one day make movies like Steven Spielberg, but who was I kidding? No one makes movies like he does. Still, I somehow cobbled together a degree plan that looked like this: cultural media studies, screenwriting, psychology (fan psychology in particular, and it was here, too, that I was diagnosed with Asperger's), and a minor in Classics. I took some drama classes, too, that resulted in the drama instructors asking me to consider changing to a drama major, but I was too far into my degree to make the switch. At least, that was how I felt about it at the time. In the meantime, I did a bit of Holiday and Sexual Perversity in Chicago and Crimes of the Heart. (Best moment ever was when I came off Crimes and began talking to someone and he exclaimed, "But wait! Where's your accent?" Turns out the Southern accent I'd been using during the show, he'd assumed it was my true speaking voice.) By the end of the program, I was spending more time haunting the halls of the Classics department and snuggling up to all those lovely gentlemen with their Welsh and Scottish and British accents anyway.

From there I could go into all my working experience: my first job at the public library when I was seventeen; working the jewelry counter in a department store, which is its own set of stories; and also for a famous doll designer, which is a strange thing to fall into . . . And then I went on to do the movie stuff, and yes I was hanging out with some famous people there for a while, and learned that if I nursed a drink and sat quietly, the people around me would sometimes become very free with their information, so it was quite the learning experience!

But then I decided that I wasn't 100% comfortable with never knowing where my next job might come from, which is part of film production. Things wrap and then what? I was in Austin, Texas, finishing my degree, and I wasn't ready to pack it in and go to L.A., though I'd had offers. (Stupid me, I know that now! But I wanted to finish what I'd started, namely my degree.) And all those famous people moved on. Meanwhile, I went back to my love of writing and headed in the opposite direction, off to Emerson College to get a Masters in Writing, Literature and Publishing. (Yes, my degrees are RTF and WLP.) Through Emerson I (a) met more famous people, and (b) networked my way into my first publishing job. I ended up working in publishing as a project manager and editor for eight years before realizing that working on other people's writing meant I was never doing any of my own. So I quit and picked up my pen laptop once more.

What else? I tend to be very healthy except when I'm not, at which times I am very ill. I can actually enumerate the times I've been sick: at six months with pneumonia the doctors were sure would kill me (I am partly deaf in one ear as a result); at age five with chicken pox (but that was all Chad Minton's fault, as everyone knows); in spring of 1988 when I came home from school and collapsed and was unconscious for a couple days; my freshman year of high school when I was so sick they put me on codeine, but still I insisted on going to school to take my mid-terms, and I passed them all even though I was high on medicine and did, in fact, yell out "Millennium Falcon!" in the middle of the English Lit exam and then dissolved into a fit of laughter that went on for a good fifteen minutes or so, to the alarm of my teacher and fellow students; and finally, the delirious fever I suffered for nearly a week in October of 1996, during which I spoke to people beside my bed who probably weren't there. Scared the bejesus out of my roommate, though. Oh, and swine flu. I had that a few years ago, and it kept me in bed a couple days. Well, and I have allergies too, but who doesn't?

Traveling . . . I do it as often as I can, which still isn't as often as I'd like. I get bored and restless pretty easily, so I crave changes in scenery. I've been all over Europe and Central America, have not yet gone as far as Asia or Australia or New Zealand, though I'd very much like to. There have been two attempts to kidnap me—one in Mexico and one in Greece—but those are other stories.

My father is brilliant recluse, my mother a social butterfly, and I am an only child brought up in a rich cultural history and amongst a crowd of cousins. But I was the quiet one. A celebrity friend of mine once said, "Thing about Manda is, she only says something when she's sure," to which I answered, "And that's why I don't speak very often."

I like to sing and dance and was member of a Shakespeare troupe for one lovely year . . . I build with LEGOs and put together puzzles whenever I'm suffering writer's block, the drawback being once I start I'm as likely to sit down and do the whole puzzle in one go and get very irritated if I'm forced to stop . . . I'd rather stay up late than get up early, and I love sun and to swim and have an intense dislike of snow. Not cold, mind. A cold, crisp morning is lovely, and even a walk in a chilling rain can be refreshing, but ice and snow are my nemeses. Oh, and telephones. I hate talking on telephones.

There. A small history of me. Not everything, but enough to give you an idea. Assuming you ever wanted one. Or maybe this is more for me, to remind me of who I am and where I come from. I think it's important to compile and summarize sometimes, else life starts to sprawl, and one can begin to lose track of oneself. I look around my office and think, How did I get here? And this answers my question, at least in part. So I can gather myself up in these words and then ask, And where to now?

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