I’m twenty-four years young, born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. All my life, I’ve been the “white-black” kid, the “Oreo,” all because I spoke intelligently, listened to other genres of music besides rap, and kept myself well read. I’ve always been proud of who I am and refused to conform to fit in.
My obsession with reading started in elementary school, when I was in the fourth grade. I toted my tattered copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire everywhere—a seven hundred thirty-eight page novel. I was the brainy kid, the kid who always collected ribbons for Principal’s List, Perfect Attendance, and Good Citizenship every six weeks. I’d always known I was different back then; I just couldn’t comprehend how.
I continued my education at Colonial Middle, a school known for its arts programs. My mother enrolled me into creative writing and, eventually, band. After middle school, I was registered at Overton High, another arts school. Here, my love for the arts grew tremendously. However, nothing compared to how much I loved writing. Nothing.
Reading and writing changed my life, shaped me into a better person. My older sister used to force me to read, and I’m glad she did. It was an escape from reality. The Harry Potter series has had the most impact on my life. My nickname was changed from “Oreo” to “Harry Potter chick.”
The last novel had affected me most, more so than the other six. I’d read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in fourteen hours—seven hundred eighty-four pages of nonstop reading, completely consumed by Harry’s misadventures. Did I sleep? No way! Did I eat? Only because I had to. I laughed out loud, cried, found myself yelling as if somehow my words of worry and rage could be heard by Harry, and I must’ve come across as utterly mad. As I read the last words of the last page of the last book, I was absolutely convinced someone had ripped out my heart, stomped it, then spit on it to add insult. Harry had been part of my life for about seven years; I was not ready to say good-bye, and I wasn’t going to. Harry Potter would only be gone from this world when there are none who remain that are loyal to him.
As I sat in my bed, completely zoned out, a thought occurred to me: What if I could write a book series that affected many people? It would be hard work, no doubt, but the feeling of actually inspiring someone as I was inspired will never leave my mind. If I inspire even one person, my soul will soar.
I’d always liked writing, even as a kid, but never once did I consider myself good enough to be taken seriously. In 2009, I determined—no matter how many years I needed to study craft to pen Printz-worthy writing, no matter how badly I wanted to set my work on fire and let the wind carry its ashes far, far way, no matter how many times I would swear on a god I didn’t believe in I would quit writing—I would write and publish my own book series to hopefully impact someone.
Even before Harry Potter, writing was part of my life, and it always will be. The English language fascinates me, intrigues me, excites me. The written language is unlike any other art. It is the silent expression of the imagination. Words speak without lips, touch without hands, paint pictures with letters instead of brush strokes. They are powerful and limitless, with endless possibilities.
Through writing, I encountered many wonderful people with unique and insightful perspectives. I can honestly say writers are some of the most diverse people I’ve ever met.
My life is a book, and I’m its author. I’ll pen my way across unpredictable chapters, full of many unknowns, until my story is one day complete.
Other facts about me:
● I’ve dipped my toes in many arts, including dance (captain of the pom squad, 5th grade), art (drawing, mostly anime), music (clarinet and piano), and theatre (ask me about my horrible—British, Australian, Russian—accents).
● At one point or another, I wanted to be: an astronaut (until I learned you need supreme math skills), a scientist (until I learned you need supreme math skills), and a marine biologist (until I learned you need supreme math skills).
As you can see, I LOVE science.
They say you never forget your first love. This is true: I declared my love for science in the third grade. Science and I had a bright future. We were going to spend years together, maybe even a lifetime. After all, I’d won several awards in his name, and his parents had given me my very own microscope in the fourth grade. Everything was perfect—until math added herself into the equation and divided us! I have never, and will never, forgive math for subtracting my soul. Every now and then, I play with science, recalling the good times before reality grips my heart and rips it out.
● I (try to) spend most of my time outdoors, enjoying nature and pretending to model the clothes I paid too much money for.