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Laura Amy Schlitz

As a child

As a child, I was very lucky. My parents gave me plenty of time to play and dream. Often, I pretended to be someone else: a ballerina, a horse, a mermaid, a spy. My brother and I ruled over a kingdom of stuffed animals – I was "The Great Laurie", and the national anthem was the Grand March from Aida. I adored fairies and fairy tales. I gathered bread crusts and hid them under the dining-room table – people in fairy tales were often described as “not having a crust to eat”, and I was determined to save my family from this fate. I taught myself to sleep in the flying-leap pose, favoured by Peter Pan on the cover of my fairy tale book. If Peter dropped by when I was asleep, he would know, from my body position, that I was willing to join him in Neverland (he has yet to turn up, but I still sleep in that position, though I wake with a stiff back.

As an adult

I have made my living as a librarian (I took a couple of years off to tour with a children’s theatre – it was a gloriously free, and disorganized life, but eventually, I had no money at all). I love the theatre, and wrote my first stage play for a friend, who needed a last-minute script for Beauty and the Beast. It turned out better than anyone expected, and I became a playwright – my plays have been produced in professional theatres all over the country. I love to make things: bread, marionettes, quilts, watercolours, origami animals. My hands get restless if I can’t make things. For the past thirteen years, I’ve worked as a school librarian, and I am so grateful that I work with children – they make me laugh, and their energy reminds me to enjoy life.

As an artist

As a writer, I do a lot of complaining. People often ask why I write, when I hate it so much. I answer, that I write because I am under a curse. I keep meaning to give up writing, but I haven’t got around to it yet. I dread sitting down to write, and I have to resort to tricks to get myself to the paper. “One half hour, or one page,” I promise myself, “then you can get up and do something you like.” I go to the bathroom, take the telephone off the hook, fill my fountain pen, get myself a glass of water, and sit down. Once I sit, my rear end has to stay in place until I’ve written. I often say that I write with my rear end – it’s the ballast that holds me steady while I fight for words.

Things you didn't know about Laura Amy Schlitz

  1. None of my clocks tell the right time. Knowing the real time makes me nervous. I set every clock in the house differently.
  2. I am infatuated with polar bears. One of the reasons I admire Phillip Pullman is that the polar bears in his books are absolutely right.
  3. I have very little feet. They look like duck feet.
  4. I get lost everywhere I go. I think it’s an undiagnosed learning difference.
  5. I have a love/hate relationship with the squirrels in my garden. They are obese and presumptuous, but I feed them, because I should have no peace otherwise.
  6. I absolutely will not eat hard-boiled eggs, peanut butter, cottage cheese, beets, or pickles of any kind.
  7. When I was in college, I would have sold my soul to be an opera singer, but no one ever made me an offer.
  8. I am pitifully unskilled at sports. In school, teams fought over me: “You take her! We had her last time!”
  9. I have been to Venice four times. The beauty of Venice makes me drunk with happiness. I wrote a 700-page novel about Venice. It is very good, but unmarketable.
  10. I am madly in love with a golden retriever called Rebecca.

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