The set up of the conversation was a question and answer (amongst teachers, librarians, readers and writers), where we got to know one another, and discussed all things bookish. It was informal, fun and totally engaging. Here's what I got out of the experience:
Sometimes Your Personal Back-Story Matters
Eileen Cook is a fascinating author. She used this this one-liner that I am totally going to steal: (I'm paraphrasing) As a child, I dreamed about growing up and becoming an author, which is about as practical as wanting to grow up and be a princess. So funny! So true! So she went to college, studied psychology, and worked in the field of psychology for many years until she finally published her first book, which drew greatly upon her expertise. Her background is incredibly interesting and makes me want to read every word she writes. It also helps that she is a lovely person.
Chris Howard is an equally engaging author. His English accent doesn't hurt matters either. The dude studied natural resources management at Colorado State University, worked for the National Park Service, and led wilderness adventure trips for teenagers. No wonder he wrote an awesome post-apocalyptic adventure.
Whether we want to admit it or not, as writers we must one day step out from behind our computer screens and engage with readers. Don't you think it might help if we are interesting? If we have some kind of backstory to highlight why we became writers, why we decided to write the books we wrote?
Two great examples that come to the top of my mind are: