Laura Amy Schlitz is the author of the Newbery Medal–winning Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village, the Newbery Honor book and New York Times bestseller Splendors & Glooms, and several other books for young readers. A teacher as well as a writer, Laura Amy Schlitz lives in Maryland.
Laura Amy Schlitz says that as a child, she was very lucky. “My parents gave me plenty of time to play and dream. Often, I pretended to be someone else; a ballerina, a horse, a mermaid, a spy. My brother and I ruled over a kingdom of stuffed animals—I was ‘The Great Laurie’, and the national anthem was the ‘Grand March’ from Aida.” She adored fairies and fairy tales. “I gathered bread crusts and hid them under the dining-room table—people in fairy tales were often described as ‘not having a crust to eat,’ and I was determined to save my family from this fate.” She also taught herself to sleep in the flying-leap pose, favored by Peter Pan on the cover of her fairy tale book so that if Peter dropped by when she was asleep, he would know, from her body position, that she was willing to join him in Neverland. “He has yet to turn up, but I still sleep in that position, though I wake with a stiff back.”
Laura Amy has made her living as a librarian, although she took a couple of years off to tour with a children’s theater: “It was a gloriously free and disorganized life, but eventually, I had no money at all.” She still loves the theater, and wrote her first stage play for a friend who needed a last-minute script for Beauty and the Beast. It turned out better than anyone expected, and Laura Amy Schlitz became a playwright whose plays have been produced in professional theaters all over the country. She loves to make things: bread, marionettes, quilts, watercolors, origami animals. She says, “My hands get restless if I can’t make things.” For the past thirteen years, she has worked as a school librarian, about which she says, “I am so grateful that I work with children—they make me laugh, and their energy reminds me to enjoy life.”
About her writing, she notes, “I do a lot of complaining. People often ask why I write, when I hate it so much. I answer that I write because I am under a curse. I keep meaning to give up writing, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. I dread sitting down to write, and I have to resort to tricks to get myself to the paper. ‘One half hour, or one page,’ I promise myself, ‘then you can get up and do something you like.’ I go to the bathroom, take the telephone off the hook, fill my fountain pen, get myself a glass of water, and sit down. Once I sit, my rear end has to stay in place until I’ve written. I often say that I write with my rear end—it’s the ballast that holds me steady while I fight for words.”