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The Secret Society of the Pink Crystal Ball: Samantha Paperback – May 22, 2012
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More About the Author
I lived my entire life before college in the same house in a suburb of Philadelphia called Ambler. I loved to read, and whenever I found a book that really spoke to me I would read it over and over and over again, and somehow, I never got tired of it. Most of Judy Blume's books fell into this category for me (particularly Are You There God, It's Me Margaret), as did Bridge to Terabithia, a book called The Girl With the Silver Eyes, and my all-time favorite book, The Westing Game. I was a good student, though better at English and writing than I was at math, and although I like to think of myself as athletic, the truth is that I am not particularly coordinated or fast, and I don't have what my husband likes to call "heart" when it comes to sports. So after dabbling in field hockey and lacrosse in middle school (more because I thought the uniforms looked cool than because I was good at either of them, which I wasn't), I became a cheerleader. It was very 1980′s. I also was president of my class for three years, which I enjoyed at the time but I now kind of regret, because twenty years later, it turns out that I am the one responsible for planning our class reunions, which is something I distinctly do not recall being told when I was seventeen.
Until I was ten, I used to spend every summer "down the shore" with my family in Atlantic City (I am dating myself here, but I still remember when the first casino in AC had it's grand opening), and after that I went to sleep away camp, which, as anyone who knows me will tell you, were the best summers of my life. When I got older, I had part-time jobs during the school year at Baskin-Robbins and at a Hallmark store, and I spent a lot of time hanging around in the parking lot of McDonald's with my friends, because there wasn't a whole lot else to do in Ambler. I couldn't wait to get out of there, and I always imaged that I would go to college somewhere far away and experience a different part of the country, but I fell in love with the University of Pennsylvania, which was just forty minutes from my house.
At Penn, I double-majored in English with a concentration on 20th century literature, and American Civilization which is sort of like American History but from a social and cultural perspective. I always enjoyed writing and much preferred research papers to tests, but I never did take a creative writing course during college, probably because I never really imagined that I would ever become a writer. During my senior year at Penn, I met a guy from Los Angeles who eventually became my husband, and after I graduated I went to law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
I moved to Los Angeles and got married and practiced law for two years at a big firm, and I hated every second of it. Somehow, I just knew that if I didn't quit then, I would wake up one day and be forty years old and still hating my job, and I'd be really sorry that I'd wasted all those years being miserable. So I quit, and, much to the chagrin of my parents - who really enjoyed bragging to their friends about how I was a big-time lawyer in LA - I got a job as a college counselor at a private high school in the city. During my five years there, I really got to know teenagers in a way that I couldn't when I was in high school. Because I was a neutral observer and not part of one clique or another, I got to know all kinds of different kids, and because I was a confidant and they trusted me, I got to know them really well.
My daughter was born in 2002, and it was while I was on maternity leave that I started writing what eventually became my first novel, Notes From the Underbelly. I didn't intend for it to be a novel. I was just bored being at home all day and I had some pretty funny stories about being pregnant and having a newborn, and I wanted to write them all down for posterity. When I was finished, I gave it to a friend of mine to read, and she (who is someone who knows about these kinds of things) insisted that I had to try to publish it. So she gave it to someone who knew someone who worked in the lit department at a talent agency, and that guy gave it to some lit agents he knew in New York, and the next thing I knew, I had an agent and I was working as a counselor during the day, taking care of a newborn baby at night, and then staying up until two am to work on turning my essays about pregnancy into a novel. The book sold in 2004, while I was pregnant with my son, and then I quit my job as a college counselor to write full time. I wrote a sequel to Notes called Tales from the Crib, and then I wrote another adult book called The Carpenter Girls, which sold in Europe. It was after that I decided to try my hand at a YA novel.
I love writing YA, I think, for the same reason that I loved being a college counselor; teenagers are fun, being around them and writing about them makes me feel young, and there is really no other experience like high school, where you're thrown into this place every day with some people you love and some people you can't stand, where anything can happen and you never know what to expect on a daily basis, and all the while you're growing up and becoming an adult and figuring out who you are and where you fit in. If that isn't a gold mine of material for a writer, then I just don't know what is.