"Because stories are everything."
Here is my bio from the jacket of The Secret of Goldenrod: Jane O'Reilly grew up in a very old house on a Mississippi River bluff in Fort Snelling, Minnesota. The youngest of five children, she enjoyed the family's annual month-long camping trips, crisscrossing North America from Circle, Alaska, to the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula. Those trips sparked a love of travel, adventure, cultures, language--and coming home. Jane is the recipient of a McKnight Fellowship in Screenwriting and holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband, dog, and cat in a hundred-year-old house that creaks in the night.
All of the above is true, but there is a lot information about me that's missing. For example, the bio doesn't tell you that I love stories. In any shape or form. And it's no wonder I do. I come from a family of storytellers. My father's letters home to my mother and my oldest sister comprise the chapter on World War ll in the Minnesota history book, Bring Warm Clothes. That sister, Catherine Watson, an award-winning writer and photographer, was the travel editor for the Minneapolis StarTribune for 30 years. And my other sister, Elizabeth Haukaas, is an award-wining poet and the author of Leap. Together we have most of the genres covered, but I am the lucky one. I get to make stuff up. However, everything I write here will be true.
In addition to two writing sisters, I have two brothers, Steven and John, who love to read.
The Secret of Goldenrod is my first book. Well, that's not exactly true; it's my first novel. A guide to weekend getaways from the Twin Cities was my first book, but I wrote it before I figured out what kind of writing I really wanted to do. About that same time I wrote a screenplay called Vagabonds. It's a story about five brothers and sisters who are forced to reprise a family camping trip in order to claim their father's estate. (Sound familiar? See the jacket bio above!) That project was a combination of truth and making things up and learning that the more you make up, the closer to the truth you get because you start asking questions and trying to figure out the answers, such as why people do what they do, or act in certain ways, and then you ask more questions. And then, in a very scientific way, you start to wonder What if? And you make your "character," who might not be very made up, do something else. And that's how fiction is born.
Fiction is where my heart finally landed about 15 years ago.
What else the bio doesn't tell you is that I have three grown children, John, Helen and Will. I also have six grandchildren, Jack, Hudson, Ella Jane, Isla, Vivien and Maverick--the newest lights of my life.
Also, I speak Spanish and even like to write in Spanish. I believe "curiosity" is the single most important trait to possess, after the big ones such as kindness and honesty, because curiosity leads to knowledge and knowledge can change the world.
Just for fun, I make hats and scarves and the occasional puppet out of felted wool. I call this art of mine Whymsy Woolsey, which is a play on words. Linsey woolsey is a very old-fasioned fabric made of linen and wool. People who wore linsey woolsey clothing often complained about how itchy it was. Whymsy Woolsey is a lot more fun.
I love words and word games, particularly Scrabble. I also love antiques, flowers and chocolate. And no matter how tough it gets, I try to keep my glass more than half full.