We finally did it. After nearly 27 years for me and 25 years for Tim, we moved out of New York City. We’d been thinking about it for a while. I was more interested, at first. I spent 13 years of my life in western Pennsylvania as a kid, of course, and until moving to Manhattan, I’d spent a lot of years in small towns or suburbia. Manhattan was wonderful, heady, exciting, thrilling, everything you dream. Then I wanted to move away, but we couldn’t afford it. Then we settled in. In recent years, though, I really started to miss traveling less than a couple of hours to get to real woods. I wanted a house, with a yard. I wanted bird feeders and trees. I wanted to be able to put friends up for the night and maybe have a garden. Worse, I wanted all that for less than a fortune. When he began to look at prices for things like houses and auto insurance, Tim began to see what I meant. He took longer to come around, but every time we returned from trips away, he’d spend a week cursing our New York-sized kitchen, in which it’s impossible for two people to move around. He looked at our bills and our Manhattan stores, and compare them with the ones in upstate New York.
- Getting the New England Science Fiction Association’s Skylark Award for being an author who plays well with fans, and having Jane Yolen tell me why it’s important to put my award where the sun don’t shine.
- Going to southeastern Alaska with Tim, which included:
– Seeing my first glacier in person, the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau;
– Seeing scores of bald eagles and humongous ravens;
– Visiting the Alaskan Raptor Center in Sitka and being introduced to Volta, the bald eagle;
– Seeing wild whales.
- Having my face snuffled by a month-old baby rhino at the San Diego Wild Animal Park.
- Visiting the Badlands, the Black Hills, Custer National Park, and the Needles in South Dakota with my sister Kim, which included:
– Sitting (quietly) in the car while a herd of buffalo split and walked around us;
– Feeding alpine chipmunks at a scenic lookout;
– Getting wild burro slobber on Kim’s car as we fed them carrots;
– Visiting Devil’s Tower in Wyoming with Kim and her husband Randy.
- Going to my first family reunion in 30 years with Tim, Kim, and Randy.
- Meeting Jane Lindskold, one of my favorite fantasy writers, after years of fandom.
- Getting to visit again with Charles de Lint, Holly Black, Debra Doyle, James Macdonald, and the one and only Bruce Coville in my travels.
- Attending the Witching Hour symposium in Salem, Massachusetts, and having a wonderful time with a lot of really smart Harry Potter fans who are into a million other things.
- Shaking the hand of Studs Terkel, who re-made the face of social history and oral history with his book, Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do.
- Discovering rough opals in their native stone: Mexican fire opals, Honduran (or Andesite) opals, black opals, Koroit opals, and Yowah opals, much to Tim’s dismay! And as for what I’ve made of all these discoveries—you’ll just have to read the books, won’t you?!
Behold the latest of my ever-changing addition to a basic biography that doesn’t change much. Call them snippets from my own mental scrapbook:
Babysitter (duh), 1966 – 1972: The first time I babysat an infant boy, I begged my mother to change his diaper. Instead she laughed herself silly and told me to do it. (To her credit, she did talk me through the changing process, which I’d never done before, but she still laughed till she turned purple over me changing a little boy. I’d never seen one before!)
Census Information Taker, 1970: For one week. This is the kind of job that introverts dream they have to do in Hell. My mother had the job, so she handed some off to 16-year-old me.
(See Photo Galleries for numerous production stills.)
In 2001 or 2002, I forget which, my friend and fellow writer Bruce Coville approached me about recording my Circle of Magic quartet with his new audio book company, Full Cast Audio. Because of my background in doing radio during the 1980s, I was thrilled to have the chance to get in front of a microphone again and to hear my characters given life by a group of good actors. There is no feeling quite like it. With movies and television, the studio’s choice of actors and visual details never quite matches the way anyone, particularly the author, imagined the story. With audio productions, though, the right actor can give the listener’s imagination an extra hook on which to hang her/his imagination, the extra boost that makes the book live in the listener’s mind.