Janni Lee Simner was born aboard a pirate ship, but as soon as she came of age booked passage with a caravan bound for the Sahara, and spent the next decade as a seeker of lost cities, hidden tombs, and ancient artifacts. While hiding from assassins in the lost Library of Alexandria, however, she discovered she really preferred telling stories, and so she settled down in the Sonoran desert to write, interrupted only by the occasional map-bearing stranger or man-eating Gila monster.
Well, okay, maybe that’s not how it really happened, but it’s how I wish it happened. The truth is I was a pretty cautious sort of kid. I probably would have been kicked off that pirate ship once they learned I was scared of heights and climbing; I probably would have starved on that caravan, because it used to be I wouldn’t eat any foods I hadn’t already tasted.
But at least I was never afraid of scrapes and falls and getting my hands dirty, and I did get braver as I got older, thanks in part to some Girl Scout camping trips, as well as to Scout journeys to Wyoming and Mexico–both pretty far for a New Yorker who used to be able to count all the places she’d visited on one hand with fingers left over. Eventually, I got brave enough that I took the stories I’d been writing all my life, forced myself to finish and revise them, and began sending them out into the world.
My first young adult novel, Bones of Faerie, is a post-apocalyptic fairy tale, set after the war with Faerie has destroyed much of the world. There are two more books in the Bones of Faerie trilogy: Faerie Winter and Faerie After. I’m also the author of Thief Eyes, a contemporary fantasy based on the Icelandic sagas for which I traveled to Iceland for research, and of four books for younger readers, including Tiernay West, Professional Adventurer, which is about a kid who’s determined to live a life of adventure from the start, and who isn’t about to let small things like still being in elementary school, too young to book passage to anywhere (these days even caravans require major credit cards) get in her way.
I’ve also published more than 40 short stories for kids, teens, and adults, including appearances in Welcome to Bordertown, Girls’ Life, and Cricket magazine, as well as the script for the the game The Huntsman: Winter’s Curse and an episode of Zombie’s Run.
I’ve written and continue to write non-fiction too, including everything from science and health articles to promotional materials to OpEds. My Writing Life series and other essays about writing offer practical inspiration for writers in all fields.
These days I know there are more places to visit than I’m ever going to have time to get to, which is one of the reasons I keep writing stories: because they let me visit all the places I can’t visit in person. (Especially the magical ones, which I haven’t figured out how to get to yet.) Girl Scouts and college both led me ever-further west, and I now live with my husband, Larry, in Tucson, Arizona. I love living in the desert, and I’m not sure I’ll ever live east of the Rockies again.
Unless those pirates show up and offer me a berth. Because now, I’m ready for them.