I never thought I’d be an author. In fact, if you’d asked a five-year-old me, living in Richmond, Virginia with her parents and little sister, what she wanted to be when she grew up, she wouldn’t have been able to give you a single answer. It would have been some hybrid non-job, a professional chimera of sorts, part artist, part horseback rider, part musician, part office worker, part chef. All I knew at that stage in life was that I was interested in everything and I hated being bored. If you had asked teenage me, living in Chicago, Illinois, the child of two MBA-trained parents, what she wanted to be when she grew up, her answer would have been a bit more practical. “I dunno, something with business,” I had been known to say, accompanied by an adolescent shrug and a cliché of an eyeroll. In college, faced with the prospect of choosing a major, (or, “concentration” as my fellow students at Brown University would remind me) I would be forced to pick a lane. And since I had long abandoned my dreams of someday becoming a sculptor-equestrian-floutist-accountant-culinary artist, I chose a path that seemed practical and interesting at the time: computer science. I threw myself into computer science whole-heartedly, nearly finishing the major by the end of my junior year, along with a half dozen TA positions, an internship each at Google and Facebook, and with a lucrative job offer waiting for me in San Francisco when I graduated, as an Android engineer at Facebook. But I suppose I never fully evicted that five-year-old from my psyche. The one who wanted to be everything. An artist, a horseback rider, a musician, an office worker, a chef… and an author, apparently. I had always loved words: big words, funny words, word games, word puzzles, alphabet soup, you name it. And as a freshman in college I (almost by accident) became a crossword constructor, too, publishing my first crossword in Brown’s puzzle week in the New York Times. And by the time I was a junior in college, I formalized that love of words by declaring a second concentration in literary arts, simply because I had taken so many of the required classes already, just for fun, that I figured I may as well receive a degree for it. I even started writing a book. It was the summer I was working at Google, and for some reason they didn’t have much work for me to do, so, as a respite from playing pool and eating five meals a day in Google’s myriad cafeteria, I began to draft my magnum opus. It was a YA dystopian novel called The Frozen City that was nearly 100,000 words, began with a prologue that was also a dream sequence and a flashback, and I spent three years revising it and querying it before realizing that maaaaybe I needed some help if I was going to actually do this author thing for real. Maybe I needed to get an MFA. I was working at Uber by this point, still as an Android engineer, but I enrolled in Hamline University’s low-residency MFA program in writing for children and young adults in order to hone my writing craft, and that’s where I began writing the book that would eventually become EMMY IN THE KEY OF CODE. Now, I live in that in-between. I love in that in-between. EMMY IN THE KEY OF CODE (Kirkus star recipient, Nerdy Book Award winner, Northern California Book Award winner, Carnegie Medal nominee) is a story about a girl who is not sure if she’s more musician or more computer scientist. It’s told in a hybrid of code and poetry, as if it’s not quite sure what it, too, wants to be, and RECIPE FOR DISASTER (Versify, September 14, 2021) is a story about a girl who is not sure if she really counts as Jewish. It is similarly told in a hybrid manner, this time oscillating between poetry, prose, and recipes. And here I am, a thirty-year-old woman, who is interested in everything, who hates being bored, who is somehow trusted to maintain a career, a home, a marriage, and the life of a one-year-old mini golden doodle, but still isn’t quite sure what she wants to be when she grows up. I know it includes books, I know it includes kids, I know it includes crossword puzzles (now, somehow, I make nearly 30 a year, and I’m published everywhere from The New York Times to The New Yorker, to the Crosswords With Friends app, to acclaimed indie publishers such as The AVCX), and I know it includes talking about how my life sits in this strange middle zone, never quite sure what it wants to be. I hope when you read my books you’ll get a peek into my brain. You’ll learn about how “or” in computer science always includes “and” and how you’re Jewish enough if you feel Jewish enough. Maybe you’ll join me in the in-between.Read more Read less
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