I’ve felt the call of a creative life as far back as I can remember. In my teens and twenties, I played in rock and jazz bands, and competed on the piano in a few local classical music competitions, capturing second place in one. I took up painting watercolors in my thirties, but it seems as if I’ve been dreaming up stories since childhood.
My family, filled with successful writers, actors, artists, and musicians, nurtured my creative spirit and stimulated my imagination. At dinner we had lively discussions about plays, films, stories, and the arts. When my parents put on makeup and costumes and the stage lights went on, the greatest magic in the world swept me away. Except once, when my father played a gangster, he found a way (without anyone else seeing) to stick out his tongue at me during a performance so I wouldn’t be scared. I was fascinated at an early age when he explained how to create a plot by throwing together characters with opposing motives. Before I was old enough to write, my mother and I stole away to a secret place where I dictated a story. My love for fantasy fiction was sparked by a babysitter, who, with a seemingly endless supply of Oz books, read me to sleep. Fairy tales, Tolkien, and the spine-tingling tales of Robert E. Howard sealed the deal. I’ve lived most of my life in Northern California. As a child, it was an easy hike from my house to a forest path, where pixies or fairies seemed to lurk beyond the next bend.
In 1976, I graduated magna cum laude with a BA in music from Dominican College of San Rafael. For my senior project I composed a piano sonata. I earned a Ph.D. in psychology in 1981 from CSPP. As a licensed psychologist, I’ve been treating children and adults since 1991. I began writing seriously in 1998. Wyndano’s Cloak is my first novel.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- What is Wyndano’s Cloak, and how do you pronounce it? Wyndano’s (pronounced WIN-dah-no’s) Cloak imparts shape-shifting powers to the wearer. Changing into animals is easy; doing what they do is hard. This sets up a challenge for the story’s heroine.
- Who is the book written for? The book is written for children ages eleven and up, but it will appeal to adults and all lovers of fantasy fiction.
- Why did you write this book? I have long been interested in the power of the arts, particularly stories, to transform culture and beliefs. A tale about empowerment in the face of terrible adversity seemed like just the thing that was needed during these difficult times.
- Will there be a sequel to the book? I’m currently working on two novels. One of these is a sequel to Wyndano’s Cloak; the other is a historical novel. Of the two, the historical novel will probably be published first. In addition, I’ve completed a draft for the prequel to Wyndano’s Cloak. The story recounts how the heroine, Jen, discovered the land of Aerdem, and found her family after living nine years as an orphan. I like to give my work time to gel, so there is no definite release date for the prequel or the sequel.
- Is A. R. Silverberry your real name? I use the pseudonym A. R. Silverberry for a number of reasons. Foremost, the name promises that fairy-tale magic will unfold in the pages ahead. Using a pen name also helps me step into my writing shoes. Finally, when I’m not delving into the arcane history of Aerdem, or whisking away to Purpura with the transdevis to dig up dirt on Naryfel, I work as a psychologist with children and adults. Some separation between my writing life and my clinical practice is helpful.
- Does being a psychologist help you as a writer? Theories about human behavior are usually far from my mind when I write. But the skills of a psychologist, such as the powers of observation and the ability to step into someone else’s shoes, come in handy.
- What was it like growing up in a creative family? Creative efforts were valued highly in my family. There was never any pressure to pursue something practical, like becoming a doctor or a lawyer. On the other hand, when I decided to become a psychologist, everyone was supportive.
- What charitable fundraising are you doing, and why? Recently I heard a staggering statistic: One in fifty children in the US are homeless. To make matters worse, the struggling economy is closing many of the organizations that could help. I will donate books and a portion of sales from selected bookstores, and I plan to organize book parties and other fundraising events for nonprofit agencies that serve needy children.