©2019 Mary C. Jackson

MARY CECILIA JACKSON

Writer, Reader, & Goat Wrangler

My Story

            I was born in Providence, Rhode Island and spent my early childhood in Massachusetts.  My family moved to Virginia when I was in the fourth grade, and I fell immediately in love with the slow, honeyed cadences of southern speech, sweet tea, hot, buttered cornbread, and the soft fragrance of climbing jasmine.  I consider myself a southerner, in all the good ways.  I have nice manners and am never rude.  I say “yes ma’am” to women who are older than I am, and I make a killer pecan pie.  “All y’all” is my favorite pronoun.  

 

            When I was in the fourth grade, I had pink cat-eye glasses, massively crooked teeth from a childhood accident, and blond curls that my mother achieved by setting my hair in pink foam rollers every night, so tightly that my eyes went all squinty and I woke up with a headache.  I was a vision of loveliness, my friends.  To drown out the sound of mean-girl bullying, I kept my nose in books all the way through Catholic elementary school, middle school, and high school, where nearly everyone considered me the nerdiest nerd ever to nerd.  I am still afraid of nuns. 

 

            Eventually, the glasses became less hideous, I wore braces for three years to straighten my teeth, went to college, and became an English major.  I started out in psychology, but this was a total disaster.  I loathed my classes.  Math was involved, and I am not a mathy-type of person.  Certain that I’d never amount to anything or be able to find a decent job, convinced I’d end my days panhandling at a bus station, I went home for Thanksgiving my sophomore year, prepared to disappoint my parents.  My father saw my unhappiness and gently told me that I should probably stop wasting my time studying something that made me miserable.  “Major in something you love,” he said. “Don’t spend the rest of your life doing work that will never make you happy.”  What I loved most was reading and books and the wide and deep and beautiful literary world.  I changed my major and never looked back. 

 

            Given an hour of free time, I would rather curl up in a big chair and read more than anything else.  In the absence of free time, I read in bits and pieces – when I am stirring a pot of chili, when I’m blow-drying my hair, or when I’m in the car waiting for my husband to emerge from Home Depot.  I carry a book in my purse for emergencies. 

            

            I graduated from Virginia Tech and the College of William and Mary and have worked as a middle-school English teacher, an adjunct instructor of college freshmen, a technical writer and editor, a speechwriter, a museum docent, and a development officer for central Virginia’s PBS and NPR stations.  I moved to Texas in 2007, where I worked as a fundraiser for the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), and as a consultant and freelance writer.  I left UTSA in 2009 to pursue my writing full-time.  

            

            I live with my husband, William, in North Carolina and Hawaii.

 

"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass."

-Anton Chekhov

On My

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Books on my list to read.

 

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Coming from Tor Teen, March 2020

My Life In Books

When people ask me to name my favorite book, I tell them it’s like being asked,

“Who’s your favorite child?” Can’t possibly do such a thing, no how, no way.

 

Here are a few of the books I’ve loved over the course of my life.

If there’s a * beside a title, it means I freaking adored

that book and read it more than once.

Enjoy!

 
 
Childhood

*The Silver Crown

Robert C. O’Brien

 

*A Little Princess

Frances Hodgson Burnett

Little Women

Louisa May Alcott

*Eight Cousins

Louisa May Alcott

A Wrinkle in Time

Madeline L’Engle

Every single one of

Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books

Blue Fairy, Green Fairy,

Yellow Fairy, Violet Fairy, etc.

Anne of Green Gables

Lucy Maud Montgomery

The Endless Steppe

Esther Hautzig
 

Every Nancy Drew book

ever written

 

Edith Hamilton’s Mythology:

Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes

(I pored over this book 

every day for years.)

BONUS ROUND

Lassie Come Home

Eric Night

(This is the first book that

made me cry.)

 
High School,
College & Grad School

 

*The Once and Future King 

T. H. White

 

David Copperfield

Charles Dickens

 

*The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

(but never The Hobbit)

J.R.R. Tolkien

 

*All of Shakespeare, especially Macbeth and Othello and Measure for Measure

 

*Paradise Lost

(some of the most beautiful poetry in the English language, IMHO)

 

All of Virginia Woolf,

especially To the Lighthouse and

A Room of One’s Own

 

*All of Edith Wharton,

especially The Age of Innocence

and The House of Mirth

 

All of Dylan Thomas,

especially Fern Hill

(one of my favorite poems)

 

The Bostonians

Henry James

BOUNUS ROUND

Jane Eyre

Charlotte Brontë

(Sigh. Mad love for this book.)

 
 
Marriage & Babies

 

*All of Robertson Davies.

–All. Of. Him.

 

The Stand

Stephen King

 

*The Secret History

Donna Tartt

 

The Color Purple

Alice Walker

 

The Killer Angels

Michael Shaara

 

Gone with the Wind

Margaret Mitchell

 

All of Anne Rivers Siddons

 

*All of Pat Conroy,

especially The Lords of Discipline

and The Prince of Tides

 

*The Shannara Trilogy

Terry Brooks

 

Robert Jordan’s

Wheel of Time series

 

BONUS ROUND

 

Sophie’s Choice

William Styron

 
 
From Then Until Now

 

*The Passage Trilogy

Justin Cronin

 

*Life after Life

Kate Atkinson

 

*The Goldfinch

Donna Tartt

 

*The Country of Ice Cream Star 

Sandra Newman

(This book is strange and beautiful

and not for everyone, but I loved it so much 

I dreamed about it. Ms. Newman

shatters the English language,

then builds it back again;

it is so brilliant and gorgeously written

I can’t even begin to tell you!)

 

*Tell the Wolves I’m Home

Carol Rifka Brunt

 

*Peace Like a River

Leif Enger

 

*The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell  Robert Dugoni

 

*Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Stephen King

(My copy is so used and worn that it’s

held together with rubber bands.

It’s my go-to book on writing.)

 

*Daughter of the Forest

Juliet Marillier

 

How to Walk Away

Katherine Center

 

BONUS ROUND

The Dog Stars

Peter Heller

 
Young Adult

 

All of Judy Blume,

especially Are You There, God?

It’s Me, Margaret

 

*Speak

Laurie Halse Anderson

 

*Harry Potter 1-7

J. K. Rowling

 

*The Scorpio Races

Maggie Stiefvater

 

*Sabriel

Garth Nix

 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Laini Taylor

 

Six of Crows

Leigh Bardugo

 

An Ember in the Ashes

Sabaa Tahir

A Great and Terrible Beauty

Libba Bray

How I Live Now

Meg Rosoff

The Hunger Games Trilogy

Suzanne Collins

 

*Seraphina

Rachel Hartman

Girl of Fire and Thorns

Rae Carson

All the Rage

Courtney Summers

If I Stay

Gayle Forman

The Fault in Our Stars

John Green

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

 Stephen Chobsky

Between Shades of Gray

Ruta Sepetys

A Court of Thorns and Roses

Sarah J. Maas

*His Dark Materials Trilogy

Phillip Pullman

 
 

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For all publicity and review copy requests,

please reach out to my publicist at lauren.levite@tor.com

*Author Photo: Richard Rives of Richard's Photography, LLC