I was born “Kristyn Riley” in southern California, the first of seven children. As soon as I was able to understand what children’s books were, I knew I wanted to write them. I think I was implanted with a writing microchip. There was never any other career option. When I was in kindergarten I told my school teacher very confidently, “I want to be an author when I grow up.” She looked surprised and said, “Nobody your age has ever told me that.” At home I would feverishly make miniature “books” by stapling sheets of paper together, then writing stories and illustrating them.
As a young girl I liked to invent funny rhythms by shuffling and clunking my Sunday shoes on the kitchen floor. I would scuff and tap them to my own strange beat. I also liked to make serious songs funny by swapping ordinary words for sillier ones. So I suppose I’ve always enjoyed tinkering with language and rhythm.
As the oldest child in my family, I liked to convince my younger brothers and sisters that my stuffed dog could make candy appear out of thin air. All it took was a little distraction, and lightning-speed placement of the candy in my pocket. There’s a magician in me.
The dream of being an author followed me throughout my high school and college years. I took creative writing courses as often as I could and tried to become chummy with the instructors, hoping some inspiration would rub off. I was a creative writing junkie.
I’m married to a police officer, Steve, who occasionally pulls me over if he sees me driving down the road. Sometimes I purposely ignore his flashing lights. But then I wonder, “What if it’s not him?” so I go ahead and stop. It’s always him. When he approaches my window, I slowly drive forward so he has to walk faster. I’m sure that people passing me on the highway think they’re watching a fugitive from justice. We have a blended yours-mine-and-ours family of seven children who keep us very busy, and give me lots of things to write about!
Even while being a crazy frazzled mom, I continued to be controlled by the “I-must-write…I-must-write…” microchip.
So I began attending writers’ conferences. I was at a particular conference at a university, when I met an author who expressed interest in my work and recommended that I submit my manuscripts to his literary agent. With this author’s encouragement and my husband’s urging, I sent off a packet of my stories. Three months later the agent called, offering to sign me on as a client. A year later, I sold my first book. Two more books followed. My dream of being published was finally realized!
My hope is that something I have written will make you laugh, clap, tap, snap, stomp, pound, smile, gasp, jiggle your feet, wiggle in your seat, giggle to the beat, dream, imagine, listen, wonder, hum, drum, sing, or belch really loud. (Okay, maybe not belch really loud.)