Sarah from A to Z
A is for Aviva, my little sister, the inspiration for the Magic in Manhattan series. No, unfortunately, not the witchcraft part. What inspired the story was the always-complicated love, jealousy, and pride involved in a sister relationship. (Is it fair that my younger sister sports a larger bra size than I do? I think not.)
B is for biting my nails, an incredibly disgusting habit I’ve been trying to break since I was 10. Yes, I’ve tried that bad tasting “you’ll-never-bite-your-nails-again” polish, and yes, I did bite them again.
C is for Canada, the wonderful and very cold country I was born in.
D is for divorce. Most of my main characters have divorced parents. I’m thinking this has to do with my own parents separating when I was 12. Just a hunch.
E is for 11, the number of times I’ve moved in the last 15 years. These days I break into hives at the scent of packing tape.
F is for first person, the voice I use to write all my books. I’ve always preferred the confessional, intimate tone. You feel as if you’re reading someone’s diary. Not that I’ve ever read anyone else’s diary. OK, just once, but Aviva, you left it lying around under your mattress. Obviously, you meant for me to read it.
G is for Gimme a Call, the title of my new novel. The book is about Devi Banks, a 17-year-old who accidentally calls her 14-year-old self. If I could call my high school self, I’d tell her to keep more diaries and stop over-plucking her eyebrows. (I’m pretty sure I didn’t want to look surprised in all my prom pictures.)
H is for headgear, the orthodontic contraption I was forced to wear in the name of straight teeth when I was 12. Divorce and headgear? Poor 12-year-old me.
I is for the Internet, a.k.a. a writer’s best tool for procrastination. Facebook! You’ve got mail! Amazon! Why haven’t I written anything in three hours?
J is for Judy. As in Judy Blume. Hers were the first books I read that made me laugh out loud and want to become a writer.
K is for karma. Like right after I read my sister’s diary, I dropped an encyclopedia on my big toe. OK, that didn’t really happen. But it could have.
L is for Lizzie Forshort, the novella I wrote when I was in grade three (that’s how we say it in Canada, not third grade. We also say “write tests” instead of “take tests,” use the washroom instead of the restroom, and enjoy a mix of fries, gravy, and cheese curds, which is known as poutine, and deep-fried sugar coated donut-like dessert called a beavertail. Anyway back to poor Lizzie.) My mom typed up my manuscript and sent it to Bantam Books. That is the (longer than I intended) story of my very first rejection letter.
M is for my mom, who no longer types up my stories, but is still the very first person to read everything I write.
N is for newcomball, the only sport I know how to play. It’s like volleyball, except you catch the ball before throwing it over the net. Now that I think about it, newcomball might not be a real sport, just a game taught to the unathletic girls at sleepaway camp.
O is for orange chicken, which is what my parents called carrots to trick me into eating them. I was planning on using the same trick on my daughter, but she loves carrots. And broccoli. And peas. Weird, eh?
P is for pet. At the moment I have no pets, although I’d love to have a dog. I would name the dog Paige so that if I ever own a bookstore, I can call it Paige’s. The first pet I had was a turtle. My aunt and uncle bought it for me as a bat mitzvah gift. I was enamored. My parents were not. They took it for a walk and claimed it ran away. I believed them.
Q is for Queenstown, New Zealand, where my husband proposed in 2003. We’d started dating in 1994 when we were 17, so in my opinion it was about time.
R is for Ramona and Her Father, the first chapter book I ever read. I remember being disappointed that there weren’t balloons and smiley pages when I got to page 100. I mean, hello? Page 100? That’s cause for celebration.
S is for scuba diving, an awesome activity. S is also for the sharks I saw when I was scuba diving. Less awesome.
T is for 24, the age I was when my first novel, Milkrun, was published.
U is for unpronounceable, which is what you probably thought when you first saw my last name. Don’t worry, I can’t pronounce it either.
V is for very lucky, which is how I feel that I’m a novelist. Not only do I get to make up stories all day, but also I get to wear my pajamas to work.
W is for wishes. Here are my top three wishes if I were a witch like in Bras & Broomsticks: World peace, a cure for cancer, and naturally straight hair.
X is for xxx, which is how I sign most of my e-mails. Though sometimes I use “All best” when I’m trying to appear professional.
Y is for Yew Nork, which was how I referred to New York until I was seven. On top of that, I pronounced my Rs as Ws. Good thing I had speech therapy, or these days I’d be calling Yew Nawk, Yew Nawk, home.
Z is for zed, which is how I was taught to say the last letter of the alphabet in the country I’m from. If you’ve already forgotten where that is, no beavertail for you, missy.