Alyssa B. Sheinmel
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I was born in Stanford, California, and even though I moved across the country to New York when I was six years old, I still think of myself as a California girl.

I still remember the very first chapter book I ever read—The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo, by Judy Blume. Before long, reading was my favorite thing in the world. I loved it so much that when there was nothing to read, I wrote my own stories just to give myself something to read. And when there was no pen and paper to be had, I just made up stories in my head.

When I was eleven years old, I began going to a new school in New York City. The teachers there were very supportive of my reading and writing. One teacher there encouraged me to read F. Scott Fitzgerald, and another introduced me to magical realism, and another tried to convince me that there was more to Ernest Hemingway than lessons in fly fishing. (She was right, of course.) And still another let me write a sequel to one of my favorite novels and call it a school project, even though I would have done in my spare time just for the fun of it.

After high school, I attended Barnard College, where I was lucky enough to have some of the best teachers in the world encouraging me to write and introducing me to new authors. One of my favorite professors told me to read Joan Didion (and I didn’t thank him enough for that), and my other favorite insisted that there was nothing more to Ernest Hemingway than lessons in fly fishing (and I argued with her a lot about that).

After college, I worked full-time: first at a literary agency, and then for a long time in the marketing department at a publishing house. I wrote my first few books—The Beautiful Between, The Lucky Kind, and The Stone Girl—in the evenings and on the weekends. It honestly never really felt like I was spending my spare time working—no matter how busy I was, I always found time to write because I wanted to.

I still don’t write every day; sometimes I get caught up in other things, and sometimes I’d just rather park myself in front of the TV and watch reruns of The West Wing. But I always find my way back to my computer—not just because writing’s my job, but also because I always remember just how much fun writing can be.