When I was a kid, a magician told me that someday I would be an interior decorator…

His prediction annoyed me because I was sure that I would be a doctor. Turns out we were both wrong.

Growing up in Massachusetts, I liked to tell stories. I once convinced a grocery store clerk that I had a baby brother at home named Bimbo. (I’m an only child.) I routinely worked out entire soap opera plot lines with my Barbies. 

I remember writing short pieces for my journal writing class in seventh grade. I tried to make ordinary things sound funny. My piece about cooking low-cholesterol turkey balls with my Aunt Lina was a hit with my peers. Maybe because I used the word “balls” seventy-five times, but I hope there was more to it.

In high school, I began telling myself that I was a writer. In all of my classes, I struggled with finding my voice in discussions, but I did well with written assignments. I had some incredible teachers, including a flute teacher, a French teacher, and a writing teacher who all said the same thing – speak up and don’t worry about making mistakes. 


My sophomore year, I was lucky to be part of an all-girl writing class that was full of serious writers. One night, we piled into a van and went into the city to hear Adrienne Rich read her poems. Senior year, I wrote a short story that I was proud of. I submitted it to a contest. It didn’t win. But my writing teacher read the first line back to me at graduation, when she presented me with the Writing Prize. And I wrote more stories.

I studied writing in college. After graduation, I read a lot of books on the subway. I wanted to write a novel, but what I really had was a journal full of doodles and what-ifs. 

A few years later, after becoming a teacher and a mom, I moved to Minneapolis. I walked into the Loft Literary Center with my baby strapped to my chest, signed up for class, and started writing The Line Tender

When I’m not writing, I like to cook, look for living things in tidepools with my sons, and try to make my family laugh. And I still keep a journal in my bag, just in case I’m hit with a what-if.

-Kate Allen