When I was growing up in Maine, I wanted to be a cowgirl, then an airline hostess, and then a teacher in the Peace Corps. But on the way to college I became a waitress and a New England Telephone switchboard operator. After that, I was perfectly happy teaching elementary school. I taught 6th grade, then became a Reading Recovery teacher who taught first graders to read. Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages also inspired me. I got to make new English speakers excited about books.
When the writing bug bit, I was lucky enough to study at Vermont College of Fine Arts.
I wanted to learn to write picture books. My favorites included The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks (Katherine Paterson), Old Turtle (Douglas Wood), Miss Rumphius (Barbara Cooney) and Alvah and Arvilla (Mary Lynn Ray).
Writing Feathers and Trumpets
One day I read about an abbess named Hildegard who lived 900 years ago in the Middle Ages.
Her story intrigued me because her childhood visions resulted in a decision that would be unheard of today. Despite living in a world where men made all the rules and women followed them, Hildegard grew up to be the strongest female voice in the twelfth century. I wanted to tell her story to young people.
When Hildegard became a saint in 2012, I became a hagiographer, an author & writer of the lives of saints. But I like being an ordinary writer too.
Listen to Joyce reading an excerpt from Feathers & Trumpets, Chapter 3, “Seven Times Daily,” accompanied by harpist De Luna.