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Heidi Ayarbe
Photo by Cesar Giraldo

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Heidi Ayarbe


I was born in Carson City, Nevada. I went to school there, then went to college a whole forty-five minutes away from my hometown. I hated to spend the night at friends' houses. I hated summer camps. Basically, my parents thought I'd NEVER leave the nest. And I never thought I'd be a writer.

I think we are all surprised! (I know I am.)

Anyway, I never dreamed of writing because writers are people who are mysterious, have pet cemeteries in their backyards, grow up during incredibly turbulent political times (I don't think Reaganomics and Clinton's friskiness count), ooze talent, have miserable childhoods, or family members named Aureliano Buendia or something cool like that.

No teacher ever told me I should write.

People told me I could do many things well. Writing, though, was never on that list. Why would I consider writing?

So I thought I'd teach. But that didn't work out. (I was that teacher whose students would swing from the rafters and disrupt other classes. Pretty bad.) After teaching, I got a job in a café in Barcelona (which is the most cliché writer-like thing I've ever done). Then I got a job in The Sporting Rage selling kayaks, backpacks, skis, and such.

So why would I consider writing?

I love, love, love to read. And…Ellen Hopkins.

When I was busy selling backpacks, somebody came and handed me a flier about a talk a local writer was giving about writing nonfiction children's books. So I went. And as far as I know (though I have yet to ask Ellen because I don't really want to know), she doesn't have a pet cemetery in her backyard. But that conference changed everything for me. There, I met a real writer. A real person who wrote and made a living doing it. And I thought, "I can do this."

Like I said. I'm pretty surprised how things have turned out!

I now live in Pereira, Colombia (South America), with my husband and daughter. Like I said, life is surprising and you never know where you'll end up. (My parents were already trying to figure out how to condition the house for me to live there forever.) And Freeze Frame, my first novel, has been an even bigger surprise, winning the 2009 IRA Children's and Young Adult Book Award. So I have a lot to be grateful for and hope to keep writing until I run out of stories to tell!

And no, I don't have a pet cemetery in my backyard. (As far as I know, to do this job, you don't need one.)

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