Friends and relatives sometimes ask me why I write stories, and the answer is simple.

I was a wild child.

When people meant to be kind to me as a kid, they called me a tomboy—you know—while they pointed at me in the maple tree sitting onthe highest branch strong enough to support my weight. Of course, I was perched as still possible, because I wanted the birds to land next to me. If they saw how peaceful and non-threatening I was, the feathered creatures would trust me.

Me, at age 3-4 years, having cut my bangs completely off. Dad loved my new hairdo.

Clearly, my whistle-tweeting songsworked on my friends, who’d fly by but never land.

I grew up on a block with many houses in suburban Chicago, and for my poor neighbors, it wasn’t unusual to catch a glimpse of me scaling one side of their backyard fence, darting across their lawn, and then throwing myself over the other side of their fence into the adjacent backyard. It was, in my young mind, an obstacle course of walls constructed for physical training. Or sometimes, it was a scene where an imaginary villain was chasing me. No worries, though—I was way too fast for those bad guys.

You’re probably thinking I was the hyperactive kid babysitters hated to watch. My babysitters would probably agree with you.

I constantly acted out my numerous imaginary whims, and my parents did what they could to help focus my energy: they signed me up for gymnastics, ballet, piano, scouts, t-ball, art lessons—you name it—I was registered for it, giving my new coach or teacher an unforgettable experience while having a blast.

Only one thing quieted me for longer periods of time: reading. Stories would grab that wild imagination of mine and hold it captive until the very last page.

That overactive imagination was never something I was able to outgrow (not that I tried). I no longer go around chasing pretend-robbers through my neighbor’s yards, because nowadays, people would do more than just shake their heads at the sight of me. And I’d hurt myself. Besides, the pretend-villain would easily catch me since I haven’t been obstacle-course training in years.

I can’t chase around anymore, but my characters can chase the bad guys.

I write stories because I’m still a wild child at heart, and I don’t ever plan on growing out of it.