I was born in Los Angeles. One of my first memories is of looking out the window of the Cadillac that my family drove across the desert when we moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, which is where I grew up, and where my sister and I spent countless summer afternoons making fairy potions, battling evil witches, and playing other imaginary games that probably contributed to my proclivity to make up stories.
My first memory of writing is as a 2nd grader. I had been assigned to write a poem about the things I liked and why. I started out pretty unassumingly: “I like rainbows because they are pretty. I like kittens because they are soft.” And then I wrote, “I like my Mom—” but I couldn’t come up with the end of the sentence. I remember it vividly because it was my first awareness of that space between a feeling, and the language that we have to name it. No words seemed big enough. I thought about all of the things that I loved about her, all of the fun stuff we did together, and finally I settled on, “I like my Mom because she gave birth to me.” That just seemed the most basic. It was, in part, her beautiful life and sudden, untimely death (just after I had graduated college) that inspired me to write this book.
After a lot of growing up (stories for another time), I went to college at the University of Chicago, and then received my MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where I lived on the bottom floor of a farm house once occupied by Kurt Vonnegut (how cool is that?!) and studied poetry.
After graduating from Iowa, I moved to Los Angeles with aspirations of becoming a screenwriter, and had the good fortune to get a job working for Stephen Chbosky. When I gave him some of my writing, he said, “I think you should write a novel.” The idea had actually never occurred to me before. But that night, on my drive home, I was staring absently at the half-full moon while waiting for a red like to change, and the title popped into my head:. Love Letters to the Dead. I started writing the book that night.
Now I live in Santa Monica, in an apartment the size of a shoebox close to the beach. Running, walking, or riding my bike by it are some of my favorite activities. My windows are almost always open, even in the winter. (Cheers to Southern California!) I also love going the farmers market and buying myself flowers, binge watching TV, and going to movies (where I am always the one crunching the popcorn during the supposed- to-be-quiet moment). I don’t have a dog but I hope to one day very soon. I love spending time with my boyfriend and with my wonderful family. I visit New Mexico as often as I can (I’m addicted to its wide-open endless skies). Sometimes I drive home from work and still feel astonished by the shock of blue water ahead of me as I come over the hill, and I feel so grateful that I am here. That’s how I also feel about publishing my first book, and I am profoundly grateful to you for reading it.
Ava Dellaira is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow. She grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago. She believes this book began when she bought her second album ever—Nirvana’s In Utero—which she listened to on repeat while filling the pages of her journal. She currently lives in Santa Monica, California, where she works in the film industry and is writing her second novel.
Bio and photo from Goodreads.