Story can be found almost everywhere, if we look. Some of my favorite places where I find story is in books and poems, oral tales, music, looking at photographs, and taking a walk.
I also love libraries. When I was young, my mother took us to the library every week, and I’d check out a stack of books and read. I almost lived in the world of story when I was in elementary school and middle school. Story was a safe and exciting place.
Some of my favorite books from that time, the ones I read over and over, include Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell, Five go to Smugglers Top by Enid Blyton, and The Hobbit by J. R. Tolkien.
Unlike most writers, I did not begin writing when I was young or in school. (Though I do recall making up adventure stories in my head all the time.) My first degree was a BS in Business Management from BYU, and I graduated without taking a single English or writing class except for business writing.
I began to write when I lived in Finland. I recall the exact moment. Early in the morning of December 14th, 2005, two characters wakened me and propelled me about of bed to our family computer, and I began to type what I viewed in the scene. It was very vivid, like I was watching real life, except I could play each scene again and again from different angles. I wanted to know what happened so continued to write every day to find out. After a couple weeks of writing, I realized I was writing a novel. For the next two years I revised the novel and worked on my writing craft.
While at a writing conference, I found out about Vermont College of Fine Arts. I applied and was accepted to their MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. I studied under Martine Leavitt, Kathi Appelt, Shelley Tanaka, Uma Krishnaswami, and Margaret Bechard. While at VCFA I experimented and wrote picture books, nonfiction, and poetry in addition to working on a novel. During my studies, we moved twice, to China and then to Germany. I graduated in 2011.
I have lived all over the world and this influences my stories. I grew up in several states—all regions of the US. My husband took a job with the Department of State shortly after our youngest child was born, and he began a second career as a diplomat. Because of that we’ve moved every few years. The places I've lived overseas include Sao Paulo, Brazil; Kauniainen (near Helsinki) Finland; Reykjavik, Iceland; Guangzhou, China (in the tropical south); Frankfurt, Germany; and Abuja, Nigeria. I currently live in Cairo, Egypt.
Sarah has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is a writer and photographer whose blog explores writing craft, stories and the cultures (and places) she lives.
She has lived in Brazil, Finland, Iceland, China, Germany, Nigeria, Egypt and many places in the United States. Her website is at http://www.sarahblakejohnson.com/