This guest post comes from Jacqueline Levering Sullivan who has recently published her first YA novel, Lovesick. Thank you, Jacqueline, for sharing how your love for writing and literature began and how it led you to become a published author.
A Writer’s Humble Beginnings
My writing career began as the resident playwright for the Anderson Street Little Theater in Tacoma, Washington. The venue, a neighbor’s garage. I was also the in-house director and leading lady. The actors who made up the repertory company were the kids who lived on my street. I was eleven. Our parents packed the playhouse for every performance.
In junior high I provided the entertainment for the Home Economics teacher’s afternoon teas. My repertoire consisted of original “one girl” sketches and monologues. Secretly, I wrote romance novels that were safely hidden in the darkest corner of my closet, never to be shared with anyone.
After I was in high school and then in college, all that kid stuff seemed silly and amateurish, but I’d always loved books and never stopped reading. The challenge of writing academic papers appealed to me. Graduate school was an even greater source of excitement. I was energized by doing research at a time when Google searches were years away.
Later, as a college professor, I taught courses like Creative Nonfiction and Autobiography and Memoir. Each class meeting began with a prompt, and my students had fifteen minutes of free writing. I wrote as well, and as the weeks and semesters went by, the memories just kept flooding back.
Conversations Spark Inspiration
One afternoon in the cozy family room of my friend Barbara’s house, our conversation turned to the internment of the Japanese at the beginning of World War II. Barbara’s oldest daughter overheard us, and she asked if we were talking about a real event. She was surprised that her history class just finished studying World War II, and the internment was never mentioned. Barbara’s grandfather was a produce broker in Los Angeles, and Barbara heard plenty of stories about what happened to the local Japanese farmers. I also had friends who were in the camps as children, so we were surprised the event had not been mentioned.
The result of that afternoon was a story about a girl whose best friend is sent to an Internment Camp. I had only Barbara’s children in mind as my readers. It was important they knew how their lives and their experiences connected with the past. That story became my first novel called Orphans of the Heart — definitely a first book. It was never published, but I knew I wanted to become a children’s author, and my books would have a historical setting. Fortunately, I saved those class free writes and paging through them would eventually inspire me to write picture books and middle grade novels, among them my first published book, Annie’s War and its sequel A Less Than Perfect Peace.
Although I have never written another play or provided entertainment for afternoon teas, I recently published Lovesick, my first young adult novel. Not bad for a writer whose career as an author started in a neighbor’s garage.
From award winning author Jacqueline Levering Sullivan comes, Lovesick, a tale about true love that will make you giggle, gasp, and weep.
Synopsis: It is 1953 and Jeanmarie Dowd is crazy about handsome Chuck Neary, captain of Rainier High School’s hockey team and boy wonder musician. But he belongs to Terry Miller, her best friend, the school’s reigning beauty. But Jeanmarie has a few things going for her, too. She is smart, fun loving, and energetic with a wicked sense of humor. She accepts her role as Chuck’s chief confidant, knowing that it might lead to betraying her best friend. She also must deal with her sister Iris, suspected of being a communist. Can she be loyal to both her sister and Terry without betraying those she loves most? Purchase at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jacqueline Levering Sullivan was born in Tacoma, Washington, a city on the beautiful Puget Sound. It is always in the background of most of her writing. She found the Northwest was the perfect place for her to grow up. The long, rainy days never bothered her; they meant she had plenty of time to read, and she seldom had her nose out of a book.
Jacqueline is the author of Annie’s War and A Less Than Perfect Peace. Annie’s War won the Kentucky Bluegrass Master List Award, was granted the International Reading Association’s Children’s Book Award, and was chosen as a finalist for the Children’s Crown Award. A Less Than Perfect Peace was awarded Best Children’s Book by Bank Street College.
Jacqueline is also a retired professor of writing who founded the Writing Center at Pitzer College and lives in California.