You need food and water. I need pen and paper. I write because words and stories are my family and friends. Without books, I wouldn’t be alive. Dramatic, but true.
Things were rough when I was a kid. I was abused at home, so I was weird at school. I was weird at school, so I didn’t have friends. Literally, I had nobody. But what I did have was a library card.
The library books I got to take out—for free, you guys! For free!—were my escape hatch. I could open the cover, dive into a story, and become anyone.
When I read Judy Blume or Sweet Valley High books, I could have a nice family. My own bedroom with a lock on the door. People to sit with at lunch. As long as I had books, for a slice of each day, my life was perfect.
In books, I found people who seemed like me. The guys in The Outsiders were not characters for me. They were kin. Their lives were dirty and dangerous, exactly like mine. But they were together, and they were cool. And so—with my fingers on their pages—so was I.
These books, and many others, helped me not be alone. They helped me stay alive. I write to honor these inky saviors, and to give struggling kids what books gave me: a safe place. A friend. A ladder from depression to hope.
In addition to being an author, I’m a life coach for teens. As a coach, I do this radical thing: I listen to kids without interrupting. I trust them to know what they want to be and do, instead of telling them what they should be and do. I help them build their own ladder up into happiness.
So yeah. I was abused as a kid. I was homeless at 13. I was locked up at 14. I was raped and arrested and fired from jobs I loved. But I had books. I had books. So today I write and coach and cheerlead teens and know that I have the best life of anyone.