People asked when I became a writer. My answer: October 28, 1959. The day I was born. People ask how long it took me to write Wolf Hollow or Beyond the Bright Sea. I say: my whole life. My work is a result of everything I’ve ever experienced. The same is true of my visual art and poetry. Art may be triggered by a moment of inspiration or epiphany, but it arises from a lifetime of observations, ideas, imagination, and skills honed by practice, practice, and more practice. I’ve had quite a few jobs in my life, all of which involved writing and all of which made me a better writer. After graduating from Brown University with a degree in English literature, I worked at the St. Paul American Indian Center, writing a book on how best to assist battered women in the Native American community. I then worked as a senior editor with an educational publisher in Toronto before starting a family and a business as a freelance writer and editor in 1988. In 1999, Random House published my first novel, Those Who Favor Fire. In 2000, I became a full-time, certified English teacher at Sturgis Charter School in Hyannis, working there for four years before leaving to become Assistant Director at the Cape Cod Writers Center and to write my second novel, Forgiving Billy, which was twice nominated for the Pushcart Editor’s Book Award and which won the 2006 Hackney Literary Award. I became Associate Director of the Cultural Center of Cape Cod in 2007, which was when I became increasingly involved in creating visual art, eventually receiving invitations to participate in various exhibits and to show my work at the Larkin Gallery in Provincetown and the Post Office Gallery in North Truro. In 2016, Dutton published my novel Wolf Hollow, which I had written for a general audience but which is known primarily as a book for young readers (“ages 10 and up”). It was named a 2016 New England Book Award winner, a 2017 Newbery Honor Book, and a 2017 Jane Addams Honor Book and was shortlisted for the 2017 New York Historical Society Children’s Book Prize, the 2017 Waterstones Book Prize, the 2017 Carnegie Medal, and other awards. In May 2017, Dutton published Beyond the Bright Sea, also for ages 10 and up. I come from a long line of farmers and love the natural world, which enabled me to write Wolf Hollow, which is about a girl named Annabelle coming of age on a small farm in 1943. Likewise, the decades I’ve spent near the ocean inspired my new book, about a girl growing up on the Elizabeth Islands off the coast of Cape Cod, where I live. I have a wonderful time visiting with children and other readers to talk about my work and to answer their questions. They are all unfailingly smart, perceptive, and supportive.Read more Read less
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