Potentially Relevant Factoids:
I was born Amy Barrett Herbst in Illinois where I had a snotty, nasty cold until my parents moved me to Southern California eighteen months later. I still get pretty nasty when it’s cold out. I swear I’m not a wuss, I just came this way.
Okay I’m a wuss. If I can’t wear flip-flops, it’s too darn cold.
Raised in Poway, California, “The City in the Country,” where coyotes, bobcats and road runners ran through our backyard like a Looney Tunes episode. Now there’s a Super Mega Wal-Mart to go with Poway’s new motto, “The 47th Strip Mall Along the I-15,” and the only thing looney tunes is the traffic.
But all that mucking in the creek catching crawdads was pure magic and I think that’s part of the reason you’ll find so many animals in my books.
Middle school was pretty standard: lots of torment and bad hair. But I did have books, a best friend, and Guns ‘N Roses. In high school I never got asked to prom, wrote a disturbing amount of bad poetry and spent most of my time with my horse, Leia. Senior year I was voted ‘Most Likely to Save the World,’ but I haven’t gotten on that yet. Sorry World. Working on it. I do believe the stories we tell have the power to save the world if we pay attention.
I went to Colgate University in Hamilton, NY to study English and Anthropology. But mostly I froze my butt off and played rugby.
Junior year I spent a semester abroad at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa. I hiked Table Mountain, rafted the Zambezi, and wrestled a baby lion. But the most life-changing part was being in South Africa during Nelson Mandela’s presidency.
Earning my teaching license at the University of San Diego I sat next to a funny dude named Jason Mair with big blue eyes, huge hands and an even bigger heart. Said I’d marry him seven months later. Kismet.
Blessed to teach third grade for a few years before turning into a surly walrus, oops I mean getting pregnant.
As a stay-at-home mom to my weird, wild, wonderful kiddos, I discovered that my brain actually leaked out my ears if I didn’t do something beyond picking Cheerios up with my toes. What I should have done was take a nap. Instead I started writing again.
Teaching and Writing:
After my first summer job at a Montessori preschool, I knew I wanted to work with children. With my love of reading and writing, I earned a BA in English and Anthropology at Colgate University, then returned home to pursue my Elementary School Teaching Credential at the University of San Diego. For the past twenty years I’ve taught in a variety of settings, most recently facilitating the Tip Top Writers Critique Group for adult writers, teaching the lunchtime Storytellers Club at Del Mar Heights Elementary School, and working as a Literacy Intervention Specialist in Solana Beach. Currently, I’m in the classroom full-time teaching the brilliant sixth graders at Sycamore Ridge Elementary. I love the joy and energy of kids and the stimulation of an academic setting.
I was first published as a teen in a youth poetry magazine and won my high school Bad Hemingway Contest. I’m a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and I have two fabulous critique groups where I workshop my own writing. Additionally, I’ve workshopped my novels at Lighthouse Writers Workshop, Big Sur Writers workshop, and the SDSU Writers Conference where I received a Conference Choice award for the opening chapters of my young adult novel. I’ve also polished my work through Writers Digest and LitReactor online classes.
When I’m not chasing dolphins on the back of my standup paddleboard, I write young adult and middle grade novels.