It’s incredibly surreal to think that this day has actually come. You spend years, probably decades, anticipating it. It’s like waiting for Christmas when you were a kid. The day itself always seemed so impossibly far away that your whole life was just anticipation.

But the anticipation is over ― and my first book, LIES WE TELL OURSELVES, is here. It’s in stores! It’s got an actual “Order” button on websites! (Preordering is so yesterday.)

Lies We Tell Ourselves


In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept “separate but equal.”

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

Advance praise for LIES WE TELL OURSELVES:

“A beautifully written and compelling read.” – School Library Journal

“A well-handled debut.” – Booklist

“A piercing look at the courage it takes to endure…forms of extreme hatred, violence, racism and sexism.” – Kirkus Reviews

“The big issues of school desegregation in the 1950s, interracial dating, and same-sex couples have the potential to be too much for one novel, but the author handles all with aplomb. What makes it even better is that both Linda’s and Sarah’s points of view are revealed as the novel unfolds, giving meaning to their indoctrinated views. Educators looking for materials to support the civil rights movement will find a gem in this novel, and librarians seeking titles for their LGBT displays should have this novel on hand…. This is a meaningful tale about integration.” – VOYA

Lies We Tell Ourselves is a phenomenal story of two high-school seniors experiencing desegregation for the first time in their Virginia school. The story provides no easy solutions; instead, it offers a solid and responsible ending that leaves hope for both girls to find a better future, while indicating that there is still much left for us to do.” – Sara Hines, Eight Cousins Books

Launch event:

This Saturday, I’m having a joint launch party with Caroline Richmond (whose debut THE ONLY THING TO FEAR comes out today too ― hurrah!) in Arlington, Va., right outside of Washington, D.C. You should come! Here are the details.


IndieBound | One More Page Books | AmazonBarnes & Noble | Harlequin

Robin Talley lives in Washington, D.C., with her ornery cat, goofy hound dog, and very patient wife. Robin’s debut novel, LIES WE TELL OURSELVES (Harlequin Teen, September 2014), follows a black girl in 1959 Virginia who’s the first to desegregate an all-white high school, and winds up falling in love with a white girl in the process. Robin tweets at @robin_talley.

Friday Q&A

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers! On Fridays, the OneFours answer questions about their books, writing processes, life, favorite flavors of ice cream, and more. This week’s question:

How do you name your characters?

Usually they just tell me their names from their first sentence. Not sure how that happens. Gordie was named after Red Wing great Gordie Howe. The rest of the characters in TGW came into my head already named.



Sometimes I’ll look up the meanings of names and find one that fits the who of who they are. In the case of Amber, I chose one of the most popular names at my school.

-Jaye Robin Brown, NO PLACE TO FALL


If I have an agenda for a name (must be a certain ethnicity, must have a certain meaning, must sound androgynous, must have been popular during a certain time period), then I look at 20000-names.com, baby name sites and such. If it’s for a tertiary or walk-on character, I just come up with something that sounds decent and doesn’t conflict with other character names (e.g., doesn’t start with the same letter as multiple more important characters). If it’s a main character, I try to think of something interesting that either relates to their backstory or to story theme or character arc.

~ Mary Elizabeth Summer, TRUST ME, I’M LYING


My main characters all have their names before I know their stories. The characters jump into my mind fully formed, including names. For the supporting cast, though, I have a ton of fun naming characters after people I know in real life. Most of my nieces and nephews have made it onto the pages of my books, as well as friends from high school and critique partners. Sometimes, I choose names because one of my minor characters reminds me of someone I know in real life, and sometimes it’s because they’re so completely opposite that it makes me giggle every time I see that name paired with that character.

~ Veronica Bartles, TWELVE STEPS


If I’m writing humor, I pick names that sound funny or work as jokes. For example, I named a hairless cat “Fluffy” and a monkey warrior “Mongee-Poo.” I also like sneaking friends’, family, and even favorite teachers’ names into stories as cameos.

~Louise Galveston, BY THE GRACE OF TODD


All of my characters’ names have meaning. Sometimes it just means I saw a street name I liked.

– Emily Lloyd-Jones, ILLUSIVE


I have a brand new answer for this question! YAY! I ask my amazing street team–the bloggers and teens who have done early reads of Compulsion and liked it enough to want to be involved. (Which is amazing and wonderful by itself!!!) Seriously, main characters names usually “feel” right to me, and then I will research the name and it will settle in. On occasion though, a name won’t work for a variety of reasons, and then I will usually end up renaming that character multiple times. That just happened with the villain in Persuasion, the sequel to Compulsion. I had accidentally named him after one of my husband’s many cousins. And because the name was absolutely perfect, I couldn’t find a new one. Fast forward the day before my first revision is due to my editor, and I’m still struggling. I’m already scouring my manuscript to find minor characters to name after street team members who have already been especially fabulous, and it hit me that I should ask them. So I posted the question, and two minutes later, I had the PERFECT name! Even better than the original perfect name. I highly recommend this method, needless to say! 🙂

~ Martina Boone, COMPULSION


My characters are partially named to reflect their ethnicity and partially named for their meaning. Gilded and Silvern are both set at a real life international school in Seoul, Korea called Seoul Foreign School. International schools are a very unique in that the students attending those schools are from all over the world, not necessarily from the host country. 50% of the population of Seoul Foreign is American, but the other 50% are from all over the world. Therefore I wanted my cast of characters to reflect that diversity. Jae Hwa Lee, my main character, is Korean-American. Many of the Korean-Americans take on American names, but I didn’t think that fit Jae well. So I gave her a Korean name that meant respect and beauty, symbolizing the journey she must take.

~ Christina Farley, GILDED and SILVERN


I have the hardest time naming characters. The character comes to me first, and then I fret and fret and fret until I stumble across a name that fits them. I like unusual names–both for characters and just generally in life–so I usually tend to save names in my head that I see in magazines or come across in the news or on television. Like, “Ooh, I like that name! Maybe it would work for Character X.” And then I try it out and see.



Often the names just pop into my head with the character, fully formed. Sometimes after, in revisions, I’ll realize that name doesn’t work for one reason or another (in one book I had named a really nasty kid with the same name as my nephew…oops!). So then I have to find a new one. A book of baby names belongs on every writer’s shelf, just to keep things interesting. I also try to throw in as many friends and family names as possible, using them for minor characters or random people. It always makes me smile, even if only a few other readers will ever know!



Because the themes of A Girl Called Fearless include girl’s rights and revolution, several of my characters’ names hint at American or women’s history. The last name of the main character, Avie Reveare comes from Paul Revere, because she will help alert the country to the threat the Paternalist party poses. Sparrow Currie, a science geek is named after the scientist Marie Curie, while Margaret Stanton is named after two women: Margaret Sanger an early supporter of contraceptives and Elizabeth Cady Stanton who fought for women having the right to vote. Hottie Yates Sandell, however, was named after one of my favorite poets, William Butler Yeats.



Mrs. Frabbleknacker (possibly the best name I have ever come up with) popped into my head one day. I giggled myself silly, wrote it down, and that was the end of that.



The name Wren just popped into my head as I was writing – I liked it because it was short and strong. Grayson came from an old friend I struck up a conversation with at a high school reunion. She’d just had a baby named Grayson, and I thought it was a really cool name, so I filed it away for a future project. As I was writing PoA, and needed to name my male protagonist, the name Grayson kept showing up everywhere (he was originally named Connor but it didn’t fit his character) – the final straw was at a paint your own pottery place when I noticed the signature on one of the wall tiles was Grayson, so I figured the universe was trying to tell me something. The universe is good like that.

~Robin Constantine, THE PROMISE OF AMAZING


I’m a teacher, and I steal names from my students and co-workers all the time. I switch around first names and last names, so no one’s name is completely stolen, but I definitely use my class lists for name ideas. So, former students, if you’re wondering if that character is named after you, the answer is…probably.

~ Jessica Love, PUSH GIRL


When I need a name, I’ll sometimes pull out my copy of 1001 Baby Names and go shopping. I love poring through the lists and trying out different names to see what sounds right. For last names, I keep a phone book nearby. Since DREAM BOY is set in a small town in southwestern Virginia, I tried to make sure the names fit my experience of living here, too. The most unusual names in the book are probably Talon and Paolo. Talon just popped into my head, and ultimately the name ended up defining the character a good bit. Paolo was the name of someone I went to high school with. The real Paolo is not necessarily similar to the character Paolo, but I liked his name and stole it.

~Mary Crockett, DREAM BOY


For THE GIRL FROM THE WELL, my female MC is based on a ghost from a Japanese legend, so I appropriated the name. For everyone else I use a personal name generator, where I keep hitting the refresh button until a name I like pops out. It’s a very scientific process.



Skila Brown has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up in Kentucky and Tennessee, lived for a bit in Guatemala, and now resides with her family in Indiana. Her debut novel, CAMINAR, is available now from Candlewick Press.

Friday Q&A

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers! On Fridays, the OneFours answer questions about their books, writing processes, life, favorite flavors of ice cream, and more. This week’s question:

What food or drink must you have when you write?

Just coffee, and lots of it. It’s not a workday unless I’m jittery.
–Michelle Krys, HEXED

I drink tea all day long whether I’m writing or not, and definitely must have it nearby when I’m writing. I go through phases on. Currently I have a yerba mate tea I’m really grooving on. Earl grey is always a favorite option too. Add lemon and stevia and I can write all day.

oreoI’m obsessed with Gushers – I call them “writer vitamins” – and those definitely give me the good nighttime sugar rush I need to get through writing after a workday. I’m also a huge cookie person, especially Oreos, and every now and again, I go through obsessive gum-chewing phases while I write. As far as drinks go, I’m a fiend for two things: juice boxes and Fresca. I’ve even been known to spike the latter on occasion, but that’s generally more of a writing reward than writing fuel 🙂

CAMINAR was fueled by a lot of Coke and pretzels. But this totally varies from project to project with me. I’m currently sipping hot tea over this new work in progress. And WITH THE END IN SIGHT was beef jerky all the way. (Which is exactly what my characters were eating too.)
–Skila Brown, CAMINAR

Anything edible, really. I am an equal opportunity eater and drinker. Milk teas, chips, hotdog sandwiches, potato salads, beer, spaghetti, dark chocolate – as long as the mouth is moving, the fingers are a-workin’.

Black coffee, ice water, hot Tulsi tea, wine. On a really good writing day you might see all four cups lined up next to my computer!



Coffee, Twizzlers, and Peppermint Patties! I bribe myself with the candy. Write a scene, get a piece of candy. 🙂 But the coffee, that is ever flowing.
–Christina Farley, GILDED & SILVERN

Coffee in the morning, and then tea all day long. I have a fondness for potato chips, which is apparent if you ever flip my keyboard over and shake the crumbs out.
–Danielle L. Jensen, STOLEN SONGBIRD

I don’t drink caffeinated beverages (a writer without coffee? I know, weird), so I’ll usually sip a ginger ale or a Sprite just to get the creative juices–or the sugar rush–flowing. Can’t eat while I’m writing, though–too hard to type with Twinkie fingers!
–Joshua David Bellin, SURVIVAL COLONY 9

I’m a little dependent on Tazo’s Berryblossom White tea.
–Emily Lloyd-Jones, ILLUSIVE

Caffe au laits. As hot as the barista and the insulated cup can stand. I tell myself I’m limited to two a day, so naturally I have three. No sugar if I’ve bought the coffee, and so also managed to get my mitts on a “powerball” (chocolate sugar bomb). Landslide of sugar, if not. My snacking is purely utilitarian, my style crude. Things that can be eaten immediately in the form in which I buy them, for which I can plead a “this isn’t junk food” case before my inner judge. Bowl of blueberries. Baby carrots. I’ll often have a bag of pecans to the right of my keyboard, and a hunk of cheese to the left. Too lazy to bother slicing the cheese, I gnaw on it in a ratterly sort of way between paragraphs on a good day, or uh…between words…on a less good day. At some point in the day, unsatisfied, I’ll then raid the writing cottage cupboard for my mates’ junk food, which I’ll devour and then replace the next day on my way to get my first cafe au lait.

I actually tend to forget to eat when I’m *really* writing. But I write in the morning, and have a lot of trouble getting started unless I have coffee. I don’t think it’s the caffeine (I drink half-caff). I think it’s just the ritual of it.
–Lisa Maxwell, SWEET UNREST

blueI’m an omnivore, which means I’ll gladly eat all my snacks and yours too. Chocolate, licorice, blueberries, raisins, ice cream in a tea cup (so I can convince myself that I’m not eating ice cream for no reason in the middle of the day), peanut butter spoons, carrots, hunks of whatever looks good in the fridge. But when I really want to focus, I chew gum and suck water. Lots and lots of water.
–Mary Crockett, DREAM BOY

I am addicted to all kinds of tea with milk while I am writing. Often, depending on the mood of the section I am working on, I will make it in an actual teapot instead of my Keurig. I have a lot of different tea pots. My favorite is an antique one with a blue willow pattern that tells the story of two lovers whose relationship was forbidden by the girl’s wealthy father, so they ran away together but drowned in a storm at sea. Their spirits became birds and soared. The story and the tea both inspire me. And If I really need extra inspiration (or just want to offer my imagination a bribe to come up with something), I will brew up a pot of chocolate tea. That often graduates to tea with toast spread with Nutella. 🙂
–Martina Boone, COMPULSION

I always have a giant glass of ice water on hand while I’m writing, but the snacks depend upon what ms I’m working on. My tastes change depending on the character. When I was writing TWELVE STEPS, I had constant cravings for Oreos (which totally sucked, because they contain an oil I’m allergic to, and I couldn’t eat them). While writing the middle grade manuscript that caught my agent’s attention, it was oatmeal raisin cookies. The one I’m working on now is inspiring all sorts of gourmet food cravings, like turtle popcorn, chocolate mousse, and gourmet pizza bites with spinach, artichokes and sun dried tomatoes. (This is my favorite manuscript so far. Yum!!)
–Veronica Bartles, TWELVE STEPS

Coffee! When I work as a standardized patient, I’m sometimes supposed to report that I drink a scary amount of coffee, and it’s often the same as what I drink in real life. After I OD on caffeine, I switch to LaCroix. –Rachel M. Wilson, DON’T TOUCH

photo (7)Tea. Tea tea tea tea tea tea. Tea in all shapes and sizes. Just tea.






Sorry if we made you hungry! Now let’s go write.

Skila Brown has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up in Kentucky and Tennessee, lived for a bit in Guatemala, and now resides with her family in Indiana. Her debut novel, CAMINAR, is available now from Candlewick Press.

Happy (Belated) 14th Day!


I was completely distracted last week because I was headed to my first ever book fest as an author. There were over 3K people in attendance, and I was maybe slightly nervous and definitely unable to think straight. (For amazing photos and embarrassing shots of authors you know, click here.)

Now, to the NEWS!!!!!

Dahlia Adler‘s “Behind the Scenes is sweet, sexy, and satisfying. Once you start reading, you won’t want to stop!”

~Trish Doller, author of Where the Stars Still Shine

“Behind the Scenes keeps the promise of its title, ushering readers backstage in a Hollywood romance they won’t want to leave. I loved this book every bit as much as I expected.”

~Jennifer Echols, author of Biggest Flirts and Dirty Little Secret

Dahlia’s book is also now available on Edelweiss.

Maria Andreu‘s The Secret Side of Empty received a great review from Booklist: “With immigration reform a hot button issue across the country, this book couldn’t be timelier. Written with the compassion and raw emotions of one who has lived in the shadows herself, Andreu’s debut offering is a winner.”

Kate Boorman received a few amazing reviews for her novel, Winterkill.

“An engrossing romance, set against a chillingly vivid repressive society. Winterkill will haunt you.”

– Julie Berry, author of Carnegie shortlisted All the Truth That’s in Me

“I ripped through WINTERKILL’s pages, desperate to know the secrets behind this captivating world. Equal parts creepy, thrilling, and touching, it’s a must-read, and Emmeline is a character I won’t soon forget.”

—James Dashner, NYT Bestselling author of THE MAZE RUNNER Series

And the cover!


Also, Winterkill sold to Host in the Czech Republic.

Edith Cohn’s Spirit’s Key received a few wonderful blurbs!

“As compelling as it is inventive, Edith Cohn’s SPIRIT’S KEY dangles magical charms before the reading mind. Surely a new classic.”—Rita Williams-Garcia, Newbery Honor Author of One Crazy Summer

“Psychics, ghost dogs and mystery galore. Cohn has told a story like no other.”—Barbara O’Connor, Author of How to Steal a Dog

Mary Crockett received two new blurbs for Dream Boy:

“Eerie, twisty, fast and funny, Dream Boy will forever change the way you see your dreams–and your nightmares.” —Lois Metzger, author of A Trick of the Light

“Dream Boy explores the mysterious world of dreams, where we access our deepest desires…the authors expertly weave fantasy and the real world in a perfect blend.” –Erica Orloff, author In Dreams

Tara Dairman‘s All Four Stars got its first trade reviews!

School Library Journal says “The [restaurant-reviewing] plan goes disastrously and hilariously awry, but Gladys and fine food ultimately triumph. The characters are well drawn…Give this one to your young foodies.”

Publishers Weekly calls ALL FOUR STARS “A tasty read.”

Helene Dunbar‘s These Gentle Wounds was chosen as a May book club pick by Just Jared Jr.

Corinne Duyvis’s Otherbound is making shock-waves with trade reviews.

In a starred review, Kirkus called OTHERBOUND: “Original and compelling; a stunning debut.” Publishers Weekly–also in a starred review, albeit a very spoilery one, so click with caution–said: “Duyvis makes ingenious use of a fascinating premise.” According to The Horn Book Magazine, “Duyvis creates a humdinger of an adventure that contains the agony of loyalty, the allure of magic, and, most gratifyingly, the element of surprise.” Finally, Booklist says that “readers who want to be left thinking after a story is done will appreciate this stand-alone title.”

Kate Hannigan has signed on for Books 2 and 3 in the CUPCAKE COUSINS series with Disney-Hyperion. They are slated to publish in Spring 2015 and Fall 2016.

Tracy Holczer also received a starred review for The Secret Hum of a Daisy. School Library Journal calls The Secret Hum of a Daisy “An essential purchase for middle grade collections.”

Dana Alison Levy‘s The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher is a Junior Library Guild selection and is available on Netgalley!

Emily Lloyd-Jones has received two outstanding reviews for her novel, Illusive.

“Illusive starts off at a sprint, and the pace never falters. With razor-sharp prose, and richly drawn characters, I was captivated beginning to end.”—Jennifer Rush, author of the Altered series

Also, there’s a starred Booklist review. “An impressive debut guaranteed to disappear from the shelves before your very eyes.” – Booklist

Jessica Love received a great review! Kirkus calls PUSH GIRL by Jessica Love and Chelsie Hill, “a light, ultimately upbeat look at life after spinal cord injury.”

Lori M. Lee‘s Gates of Thread and Stone sold in Germany to Blanvalet!

“A fast-paced, heart-wrenching whirl of a story full of magic, immortals, and a romance that will leave readers gasping for more.” –Mindee Arnett, THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR series and AVALON series

“The kind of book you want to read both fast and slow: fast to find out what happens next and slow to savor the journey. I couldn’t put it down.” –Sarah Beth Durst

“A captivating fantasy that will thread its way into your heart.” –Christina Farley, GILDED

“Inventive, romantic, and gripping.” –Amy Tintera, REBOOT and REBEL

“Lori M. Lee excels in building a world of intrigue, oppression, and magic amidst a Labyrinth setting as twisted and winding as the secrets hidden inside her characters’ hearts. Fans of strong heroines who don’t need a boy to hold their hands, action-packed fighting scenes, and whispers of steampunk and mythology, will find themselves wishing they, too, could manipulate the threads of time, if only to stay inside the story a little longer.” –A.G. Howard, the SPLINTERED series


Julie Murphy‘s Side Effects May Vary sold Turkish rights to Pegasus. Mutlu okuma!

Tess Sharpe‘s Far From You sold in Italy, Brazil and France. It also received a starred review from the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books which called it “A lacerating picture of grief and regret,” which Tess adores because she keeps imagining a picture frame made out of knives.

AdriAnne Strickland‘s Wordless has “[J]ust the right amount of pizzazz in the form of cinematic action and naked, sexy fun… with a nonetheless intriguing, original science-fantasy setting sure to attract fans,” says Kirkus.


Amber Lough lives with her husband, their two kids, and their cat, Popcorn, in Syracuse, NY. She spent much of her childhood in Japan and Bahrain. Later, she returned to the Middle East as an Air Force intelligence officer to spend eight months in Baghdad, where the ancient sands still echo the voices lost to wind and time. Her Middle Eastern fantasy, THE FIRE WISH, is due from Random House Children’s in July 2014.

Friday Q&A

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers! On Fridays, the OneFours answer questions about their books, writing processes, life, favorite flavors of ice cream, and more. This week’s question:

When you were 14, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a baseball reporter. I didn’t quite pull that one off.

I wanted to be Tommy Shaw’s girlfriend (the blond haired guy from the 80’s band, Styx). Thank God that didn’t work out.
-Jaye Robin Brown, NO PLACE TO FALL

I took a break from wanting to be an author to think I should be a doctor. Lesson learned: never go for what you think you *should* be instead of what you want to be.
-AdriAnne Strickland, WORDLESS

I wanted to be a forensic investigator or a homicide detective. Like most balanced fourteen-year-olds, I was obsessed with unsolved murders.
-Michelle Krys, HEXED

I wanted to be an artist, any kind of artist: poet, painter, musician, singer, dancer – I did it all.
-Chris Struyk-Bonn, WHISPER

I wanted to be a journalist. Same thing when I was 15 and 16 and 17, and all the way until my last year of journalism school in college. Then I was all, Errrrrr…never mind.

I wanted to be a Doctor, until I discovered the whole cadaver semester of med school. Changed my mind pretty quickly.
-Lisa Maxwell, SWEET UNREST

I wanted to be a paleontologist. I still think dinosaurs are awesome.

I wanted to be some kind of rich socialite lady in Victorian times. I’m still hoping to pull this off once time travel gets invented.

My fantasy was to be an actress. My realistic choice was advertising, which I ended up going to school for and actually working in for several years before realizing that 14-year-old Jess was WRONG.
-Jessica Love, PUSH GIRL

I wanted to be an archeologist specializing in Egyptology, primarily. I did love reading about the history and the excavations, but I think I also just really wanted to be Lara Croft from Tomb Raider.

I’d just started writing for my school newspaper and I badly wanted to be a travel journalist. Alas “traveling” to the rival high school for a report on mascots did not require a cool multi-pocket khaki vest like those correspondents on TV wore. Le sigh.

When I was fourteen I wanted to be a writer. I developed a penchant for fountain pens and small notebooks, the better for jotting down inspired bon mots. Sadly, being left-handed, I smeared the ink across the page so consistently that all those pearls of wisdom were lost.

I wanted to be a costumed interpreter at a historical museum a la Colonial Williamsburg, wearing petticoats and teaching people how to churn butter. Still do.
– Laura Marx Fitzgerald, UNDER THE EGG

I wanted to be someone that people would notice. I always felt slightly invisible, compared to my gorgeous, and super-popular older sister, and my too-adorable-for-words younger sister, and I wished that I had something special to make people notice me too. I spent all of my time writing short stories and poetry, and dreaming of a day when my words would be recognized all over the world. I also secretly wanted to be a stay-at-home mom when I grew up, but by the time I was 14, I’d convinced myself that I was too unlovable, and I’d never be able to be a mom, because I’d never find someone to love me enough. It took me years to realize that I was selling myself short. Maybe that’s why I so often write about characters who have so much more going for them than they realize.
– Veronica Bartles, TWELVE STEPS

I wanted to find my way into Neverland because growing up just seemed like a stupid idea. That feeling never really went away. I cried on my 21st birthday because it was that final, FINAL step into adulthood.

By 14 I’d exchanged my dreams of being a veterinarian for the bright lights of Broadway. I wanted to take the stage by storm as a triple threat–singing, acting and dancing. (This dream has never quite died, BTW.)
– Louise Galveston, BY THE GRACE OF TODD

When I was fourteen, I was singularly disinterested in growing up. Though that sounds as if I was sitting calmly on a divan with my legs crossed, cogitating on the matter, but it really looked more like me screaming in an unattractive manner while pelting as hard as I could in the opposite direction.

Wow, I…do not even remember. Fourteen is somewhere between my “First female president” and “Rock journalist” phases; my ambitions were more like “SURVIVE THIS.”

Fourteen was a tumultuous year. I think I skipped around from stage manager to boxer to tattoo artist.

I wanted to be the Lady of Shalott, of course. With a side gig naming crayons, house paint, and nail polish colors.

I wanted to be rich and I wanted to be a teacher, so you can see I had a wonderful grasp of oxymorons early on!
– Linda Vigen Phillips, CRAZY

Well, obviously, I didn’t want to grow up. But if I had to, then I wanted to be a children’s book author… with a stint as detective/international spy on the side! Thank you, Nancy Drew and Spy Fox!

When I was 14, the guidance counselor gave us personality tests to help match us with career paths–and I thought for sure I’d get English teacher or journalist (as those were the only “book lover” jobs I knew). But what I got was–surprise!–archivist. True, I was attracted to old, crinkly papers, and yes, I did want to get my hands on them. But archivist seemed out of question. Who from my little spot in southwestern Virginia grew up to be an archivist? Short answer: no one. But then, after graduate school, I just sort of stumbled into a job as a museum director in charge of a historical archive–in my hometown, no less. I got my hands (or at least my white cotton gloves) all over old crinkly papers. Lots of fun and dust. That said, what I really wanted was to be a gypsy fortune teller who travels around with the carnival.
– Mary Crockett, DREAM BOY

I wanted to be Johnny Carson. I loved that he got to talk to people and ask funny questions and generally chitchat in a way that really cracked people up. Didn’t seem like it could get better than that!
– Kate Hannigan, CUPCAKE COUSINS

When I was fourteen I wanted to be a child psychologist who specialized in dysfunctional families and overcoming traumatic events. This career goal of mine continued throughout high school and college, where I triple-majored in psychology, sociology, and social services and minored in criminal justice. While I am not a child psychologist today, I use what I learned in my writing, and many of my books/manuscripts feature dysfunctional families and carry the theme of overcoming traumatic events.
-Clara Kensie, RUN TO YOU

I wanted to be an Olympic volleyball player (the next Gabrielle Reece!) and professional cellist (the next Jacqueline du Pré) simultaneously.
– Natalie C. Parker, BEWARE THE WILD

I wanted to be in charge. I didn’t really care of what.
-Skila Brown, CAMINAR

What did you want to be when you were 14? Share in the comments!

Skila Brown has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up in Kentucky and Tennessee, lived for a bit in Guatemala, and now resides with her family in Indiana. Her debut novel, CAMINAR, is available now from Candlewick Press.