ABOUT MARY WINN
I grew up in Columbia, South Carolina and Bukittinggi, Indonesia. We traveled a lot when I was in elementary school (my dad is an anthropologist who studied language and emotions, and he taught at a college in Indonesia for a few years). Sometimes all that travel was adventurous and sometimes it was lonely and frustrating.
As soon as I could read, I read all the time. It's hard to bring friends with you halfway around the world...unless those friends are books! So I promptly became friends with ALL THE BOOKS. I'd take a book up a tree, I'd read instead of doing my homework, I'd do that sneaky thing and read at night when I was supposed to be asleep. I was relentless.
So me + books = bffs. EXCEPT that I didn't think writing a book was ever anything I could do.
So I tried a lot of other things first: I studied acting and anthropology, I taught high school, I was a public radio reporter, I spent time as a bartender on a train in Alaska, I traveled with an Italian circus, and I worked as the receptionist for the cadaver lab that inspired The Mortification of Fovea Munson.
The whole time, I kept acting in plays, learning about storytelling without realizing that I was helping future me be a better writer.
Eventually, I went back to school, and got an MFA in writing at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. It turned out the biggest thing for me to learn was that I didn't have to get it right on the first try. Plays have rehearsals. Books have drafts! Eureka! (For me, at least! Everybody else seems to have known this all along.)
Now I live in Chicago, where I write (and sometimes act in plays). I'm also lucky enough to be part of a ridiculous theater company! Barrel of Monkeys is a group of actors and teachers who work together to lead creative writing workshops in Chicago Public Schools. After those six-week-long workshops, we perform what the students wrote- for them, in their schools.
And those students? They are my favorite authors.