The Backstory

The Backstory

I write stories and draw them too. I love walking long ways on sidewalks and paths. Often I want to walk with trees near me. I like knowing that people are around, yet I crave being alone with nature. It’s a bit of a contradiction, but I like contradictions. When I visit New York City, I always spend some time in Central Park. Last year I tried to get lost there, it’s pretty impossible to do, but meandering through the thickets made me feel like that. I imagine that sensibility began when I was very young.

We lived in a house full with five kids that was built just on the edge of a woods in Illinois. The oak trees were old and enormous and a small creek wiggled it’s way through them. There was always someone around to play with, but I was on occasion searching for an adventure of my own, so I journeyed out alone into that forest. There were already established paths and in the winter, the animals used them too. In the snow, you could follow their prints. Sometimes they would end abruptly under a bush and I could quietly flush out a magnificent pheasant.

Walking alone whether in the city or out in nature is like stirring the pot while making soup. Only instead of adding herbs and such, my mind is mulling thoughts and images that become stories and drawings. I never ‘came out’ as a writer or artist before because I earned my living as an actress and that was public enough for me. I wrote many story ideas and scripts but never showed them to anyone. Some of my drawings have been seen on my holiday cards over the years, but only by my friends and family.

So it is quite exciting journeying out into this unknown territory. The desire to share the stories and pictures is a whole new adventure. I do love a good adventure. The seed for my illustrated mystery novel, Wondago began during a time when I was feeling rather lost. I had had some recognition of my acting work and some financial success, but none of that gave me a sense of self – of having an inner compass. At the same time I was reconnecting with my mother’s old dance teacher, Mildred Dickinson. I had known her as a very young child and then again in my late teen years. But now in my twenties I visited her at her farm in Illinois. She was just shy of her ninetieth birthday and I was enamored with this old woman. She had a love of the land and an acceptance of life that inspired me. I started imagining a story and images of her farm. I called it Wondago.

Eventually my acting career took off and the idea for the book stayed hidden away on the first few pages of a legal pad. Decades later, I have finally finished Wondago. I humbly and excitedly reveal it now to you.