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Southern LiterBEARy Portraits
Melinda Kay Brown Long

Protrait submitted by Mrs. Morton's class from Westcliffe Elementary
Greenville, South Carolina

I was born on Saturday, September 3, 1960 in Spartanburg, SC. My father, Walter Brown, was a very talkative man who loved to tell stories, and I loved to listen to them. My mother, Alpha Brown, read to me every night. I'm sure she got tired of reading Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss, but I never did, so she continued to read it every time I asked. Naturally, I grew up loving stories and books!

 

Once, when I was five or six years old, I was stuck inside the house with nothing to do. It was raining outside and there was nothing good on TV. After all, we only got three channels and one of them didn't work. I don't know how many times I said to my mother, "I'm bored!" before she sat me down at her old black typewriter and told me she knew something fun I could do. Mama handed me a box of rubber stamps; they were all cartoon characters like Yogi Bear and Booboo. She gave me paper and an inkpad and told me I should write a story about the characters on the stamps. I did. It took me a while on that old manual typewriter. It was hard to use and the "e" didn't work, but I managed to write that story all the same. That's how I began my writing career!

We moved to several places such as Columbia, Greenville, and Nashville, Tennessee when I was a child, but by the time I was twelve years old, we ended up in Travelers Rest, S.C. and we stayed there. I attended Travelers Rest High School and Furman University where I got my bachelor's degree in elementary education. I continued to write stories and poems the whole time because I loved it so much. At Furman, a poem of mine was published in the school's literary magazine and maybe that's when I realized that somebody might actually want to read something I wrote.

 

 

I was married in 1984, and my husband, Thom, encouraged me to continue my writing and to send it off for publication. He even bought me an electronic typewriter, which was a whole lot nicer than that old black manual one my mother had, and later, my first computer. But becoming a published author wasn't easy. It took me twelve years of trying to get a publisher to buy my stories before one finally did. In 1996, an agent agreed to represent my work and finally, Simon and Schuster purchased two of my books. It took until September, 2000 for my first book, When Papa Snores, to hit the bookshelves. In March, 2001, my second book, Hiccup Snickup, was published. The ideas for both of those came from things that really happened, but the stories themselves are made up.

Today, I live in Greenville, S.C. with my husband, Thom, my kids, Cathy and Bryan, and my dog, Moses. I teach eighth grade literature and language arts and I write as often as possible. I have another book coming out in 2003 called, How I Became a Pirate. It's being illustrated by David Shannon, the talented man who wrote and illustrated, No, David! I can't wait to see how the drawings turn out!