Short bio: Just the facts

Marianna BaerMarianna Baer received an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and a BA in art from Oberlin College. She also attended boarding school, where she lived in a tiny dorm called Frost House, the inspiration for her first novel, Frost. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY, the setting for her second novel, The Inconceivable Life of Quinn.

Long bio: Probably TMI

my mother reading to my older sister and me

my mother reading to me and my older sister

I grew up in Cambridge, MA, where, despite a love of reading, I didn’t plan to write books myself (see excerpt from kindergarten journal). Instead, I wanted to be: the shark feeder at the aquarium, a gas station attendant, President of the United States, or a famous actress. All of these goals seemed equally achievable.

Inspired in part by British writer Enid Blyton’s boarding school series (which my sister and I read obsessively), I went away to school in tenth grade and found that it was mostly as great as I had hoped, even if boarding school students in the US didn’t eat midnight feasts out of “tuck boxes” or perform in “pantomimes.” My favorite subjects were art and English.

the real Frost House

Senior year, I lived in a tiny dorm called Frost House with several of my closest friends and discovered that, yes, being 17 and living with a group of friends was extremely fun and a great way to expand one’s wardrobe. (Years later, when my roommates and I went back to visit Frost House, we found it had been torn down. Even though it had been gone for years, nothing had been built in its place, and the house’s footprint was still visible as a ghostly shape in the grass, as if Frost House had claimed that spot of earth forever. It was kind of creepy.)

At Oberlin College, I majored in studio art and art history, then moved to New York City and began working at a contemporary art gallery in Manhattan. The gallery exhibited cutting-edge work; one artist made sculptures of chocolate and lard, one performed during a surgical operation, another created interactive artwork for the web before most people even knew what the internet was. They opened my mind to new ways of thinking about art and creativity.

one of my picture book illustrations

During the 13 years I worked at the gallery, I was also trying to keep my own artistic life going. A series of classes led me to children’s book illustration, then to writing picture books. I worked on my drawings and writing for years, with unflagging interest that bordered on obsession. Going against the (good) old advice “Don’t quit your day job,” I eventually did just that. I left my career in the art world and enrolled in the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in writing for children and young adults program.

If you ask me about the VCFA program in person, you will likely pass out from exhaustion before I stop talking. I’ll tell you how brilliant the faculty are, how inspiring the ten-day residencies are, how I developed friendships with wonderful writers, blah, blah, blah… Here, though, I’ll keep it to this: the VCFA cafeteria has insanely delicious cookies.

I do not live with this cat

I currently live in Brooklyn, NY, near Prospect Park, where I can often be found walking and talking to myself. My apartment building doesn’t allow pets, which means that I definitely don’t have a cat. The cat I don’t have isn’t a plump, black, ex-stray named Minka who only has a few teeth. When I’m not writing my own books, I’m editing other people’s books for Girl Friday Productions.

Some random loves: Marimekko fabrics, the lotus root appetizer at my favorite Japanese restaurant, beaches, swimming, Vermont, hot springs in New Mexico, chocolate soufflé, fancy dresses and places to wear them, colorful tights, Friday Night Lights, The Wire, dancing, watching sports, all animals but especially ones that let me hug and kiss them.

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