MARY CECILIA JACKSON
Writer, Reader, & Goat Wrangler
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."
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.