When the editor from Scribner’s called to tell me she wanted to publish Cloud Dancer, I got so nervous and excited that I hung up on her. I was sitting in my office and the last thing I expected to hear on a line that normally buzzed with impatient clients was a kind voice telling me she loved my novel.
Back then, in 1992, hardly anyone knew I wrote fiction. I’d started when I was nine years old, an escape from a topsy-turvy home life, a way to rework reality. It was mostly my little secret. And it was about to come out.
Thank goodness, the editor called back.
I will skip the part where I danced down the hall to tell my boss and number one fan, Joan Korn, the news, and simply say that by the time Scribner’s rescued Cloud Dancer from the slush pile, Where You Belong was already just about finished.
Cloud Dancer, unfortunately, got lost in the shuffle as Simon and Schuster acquired Scribner’s Children’s Books and it was never sent out for reviews. So Cloud remained a little-known secret. But the publishing gears were in place for Where, and it was chosen as a finalist for the National Book Award in 1997.
A demanding career as an editor at Bloomberg L.P. and raising two sons left me little time for fiction, but Morning in a Different Place, the sequel to Where, was published in 2009 and Crossing Into Brooklyn will be published by Merit Press in August. (In some ways at least, short fiction is less demanding, so I also write short stories—mainly for adult readers—which appear in literary journals. Some of them are available on this site under “Short Fiction.”)
I love talking to young people about my fiction. When the National Book Foundation sent me to James Monroe High School in the Bronx, I spent a week talking with students about Fiona and Yolanda and about the Civil Rights Movement, domestic violence, and the tough life of being a teen.
I’ve visited many schools since then, and I’m eager to visit more, especially in New York and New Jersey, to talk about my novels and the many issues teens struggle with, as well as broader issues like poverty, alcoholism, racism, and domestic violence.
If you have comments or questions about my fiction, I hope you’ll write to me via “Contact.” I would be delighted to hear from you.