I grew up in Malden, MA, a suburb just outside of Boston, the daughter of two nurses and the youngest of three. I consider myself very lucky to have grown up with a mother who loved to read. Each week my Mom would take me with her to our local library so that she could stock up on books. As I grew older I would venture off into the children’s section and gather up on my own collection to check out. Through my mother I realized that reading could become a wonderful escape and writing even more so. When my mother gave me a diary as a gift, I first filled the pages with the “very important” details of my life—adventures with my friends, secret crushes and the many ways in which my family drove me crazy. Then I began creating my own stories.
Lesa Cline-Ransome at work
By the time I reached middle school, I decided that I wanted to be a real writer, a journalist. I wanted to sniff out stories, conduct interviews and write in-depth articles for a newspaper in New York City. After I attended a summer workshop for teens interested in journalism at Suffolk University in Boston, I realized that a career in journalism was the last thing I wanted. I was too shy to conduct interviews, hated working under tight deadlines and did not enjoy factual writing. I wanted to create my own stories or at least be able to put my own creative spin on the stories I wrote. By the time I finished high school, I had given up on the idea of any type of writing career.
Though my mother started me on my writing journey, it was my teachers in school and throughout college that sustained it. With encouragement from my professors at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, I began writing for the college paper and my passion for writing was renewed. After I graduated, I took my first job in the advertising department at Lord & Taylor but soon realized that writing ad copy for catalogues would not be enough of a creative outlet.
I became interested in children’s books the year I married. My husband, James was working on illustrating his first book which allowed both of us to look at picture books in a new way. When we’d browse books in bookstores, he studied the illustrations, I read the stories. I eventually completed a graduate degree in elementary education and through my coursework became truly immersed in children’s literature.
When I was home after the birth of our first child, James would constantly suggest that I start writing for children. He had tons of ideas for books (none of which I liked), but then he showed me a collection of stories about champion athletes. When I read the section on Satchel Paige, the Negro League pitcher, I was hooked. In between my daughter’s naps and another pregnancy, I read and researched and wrote for nearly a year before an editor at Simon & Schuster decided to take a chance on Satchel. Four years, four books (and four children) later and I am still writing.
Now as I make my weekly treks to the library with my own children to gather research or stock up on books, I am again reminded of just how lucky I am.