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 Language Arts to the brilliant third and fifth graders at Diegueno Country School. 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 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, the SDSU Writers Conference and through Writers Digest and LitReactor online classes. I’m a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and I am represented by Caryn Wiseman at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
When I’m not chasing dolphins on the back of my standup paddleboard, I write young adult and middle grade novels.