About Stephanie Willing
The Writer Story
Stephanie wrote poetry as a kid until one day the poetry stopped flowing and it all came out as stories. When she wasn't writing, she was reading. She sometimes got in trouble for reading when she should've been doing other things, but she could never put a good book down (this is still true today).
Her lifelong favorite middle-grade novel is Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, which she found at a thrift store in Fort Worth and read in one sitting on the long drive back home to Cleburne in the back of a badly air-conditioned Volvo. Fantasies that are rooted in our world and its rules quickly became her favorite genre to read and write.
She took creative writing classes as an undergrad at Texas Woman's University, and after moving to NYC she attended workshops at the Writers Voice in memoir, fiction, and fairy tales.
Stephanie studied at Lesley from 2015-2017, directly mentored by David Elliott, Michelle Knudsen, and Susan Goodman, but also under the guidance of Tracey Baptiste, Jason Reynolds, and Chris Lynch. She graduated with her MFA in Writing for Young People and, just as importantly, a cohort of wonderful writer friends who continue to beta read for her and inspire her with their books.
Stephanie was a 2017 Pitch Wars Mentee, and her manuscript West of the Sea caught the eye of Alexandra Levick at Writers House, and the two clicked and signed. After some intense revisions (and a move and giving birth to her first son), Stephanie sold West of the Sea in a two-book deal to Margaret Rosenthal at Viking Children's. It is slated for publication in summer 2023.
The Rest of the Story
Also on that "when I grow up" list were the goals 'Dancer' and 'Actor.' Stephanie studied classical ballet as a teenager and attended Texas Woman's University as a Dance major with a double minor in English and Women's Studies. To save money after college she worked at Half-Price Books in Cedar Hill, TX, in the Teen/Young Readers section, and promised herself that one day her book would be on the shelves too, like Kate DeCamillo, another former HPB employee.
In 2008 she moved to NYC to purse the dancer-actor-writer thing. She taught Pilates by day while acting in indie theater plays at night and squeezing in dance classes and writing workshops. In 2017, with her MFA in Writing for Young People under her belt, she began transitioning into voice over and audiobook narration. . She feels extra lucky that her job as an audiobook narrator lets gives her a chance to bring other people's books to life and learn from their writing along the way. She tries to write every day, but that doesn't always work out. She and her husband, Matthew, who is also an actor, have two wonderful young sons who wake them up much too early in the morning every single day. Their two cats and several fish also give them joy. It's a good life, and she's very grateful for it.