I was born in Marshall, Minnesota – famous for being the headquarters for Schwann’s. If you don’t know who they are I feel sorry for you. Their ice cream is to die for. I grew up on a farm outside of a little town called Wabasso, Minnesota and lived there until I was six. My best friends were the animals, especially my cat, Heidi, who would ride wrapped around my shoulders as we checked everything out on our daily inspections. When I got bored, my mom would set me down with a canvas and paints and we would paint together. I had a horse, apple trees, a grove to explore and dairy cows to get attached to. For a young child it was an idyllic life and I loved it. My grandparents ran the newspaper in town and my other grandparents were retired and just spoiled me.

Just before I was seven we moved to a town in Wyoming called Cody, named after Buffalo Bill Cody. It’s surrounded by mountains and was about seven times as big as the farm town I had grown up in. I vowed to hate the mountains and everything about Wyoming. It was a dirty word as far as I was concerned and there could be nothing good about it. Of course the fact that I left a ton of cousins and aunts and uncles behind was a huge factor in this decision.

Eventually, I adjusted and came to love the mountains, so much that I majored in biology and took every botany class I could get my hands on. During high school I took a break and became a Rotary Foreign Exchange Student and lived in Nantes, France for a year. It was the best year of my life. I never knew what to expect. Every day was in flux with new experiences, food and friends. I attended the Université de Nantes and took French as a foreign language, and then went back to a private Catholic High School. Made a ton of friends and was sad to leave. I returned home for my senior year to graduate from my own high school. During that final year I was busy with photography and writing. I wrote all the time. It was truly a passion for me.

Later in college I was fascinated with plants and their job in the ecosystem. By this time I had moved to Casper, WY a truly huge metropolis of around 50,000 people. Arguably the largest city in the state (Cheyenne was always trying to upstage us)! Cody, Yellowstone National Park and Teton National Park were my backyard in Cody but Casper was prairie at the tip of the Laramie range. Very different environment. I played in the woods for several years and found that I couldn’t make money that way, probably good experience for becoming a writer. Instead I became a social worker. I traveled a lot. It was during that time that I met my husband, a geologist from Indiana. I applied for a job in marketing for a big office products company near Chicago where he worked. A few months later we were engaged and the rest of that is history. Seven years in the Chicago area has made me a diehard Cubbies fan. Go West Young Woman… It was in 2007 that we packed up the family and two cats and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. We love it here. I’ve always loved the ocean. This is the perfect place for me to live, with the climate in the Bay Area, and the ocean and mountains only five minutes from my house.

Writing continues to be a passion. Whether it is my next novel, novella or poem, I am excited to get my thoughts on paper. I write to music. Must have music. I use playlists and gear them towards the story or characters I am writing about. Maybe I’ll post the playlists at some point.
When I’m starting a new book I generally listen to Pandora and choose the channel depending on the mood I am in that day. The playlists evolve during the writing and are used for editing… which I do a lot of.


About writer author Jessica McBrayer