Stephanie Workman first discovered her passion for writing at age fifteen, when her high school English teacher submitted one of her poems to the 21st Century Poetry Journal—and it was published! Stephanie went on to earn her BFA in Writing, Literature and Publishing at Emerson College and then interned at MTV Films, where she wrote script coverage. Kirkus Review hailed her first picture book, Lucy’s Amazing Friend, which was inspired by her husband’s high school friendship with a classmate living with autism, as “sympathetic and triumphant.” She is currently working on the second installment in the Amazing Friends series, Not So Truthful Timmy, about a boy who does not know the difference between make-believe and lying, as well as on her first novel. Stephanie is an active member of the Coalition of Children’s Book Authors, which donates books to needy children in Africa. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband, Tim.
I was born and raised in New Hampshire, the youngest of five. I consider myself lucky because I’ve been fortunate enough to spend most of my life exploring outside of New Hampshire. When I was eleven I spent the summer in Alaska with my father and again in the winter when I was fourteen. I remember one night during the summer going to bed at 11 PM. As I went to close the blinds I saw children playing outside because it was still light out. The winter was the exact opposite. It was dark when I arrived at school and when it was time to go home it was already dark again.
Growing up I always wrote stories and poems, but never thought of it as a possible career until high school. For a school assignment I was told to write a poem and the teacher was going to submit all of the students' work to a poetry journal. It was when I was the only one chosen to be published in the journal I realized I could really do something with this.
When it was time to pick out colleges I had no idea where I wanted to go. It wasn’t until I picked up a brochure of the college my sister was currently attending, Emerson College in Boston; I knew I had found the one. They had a writing program that sounded amazing, opportunities to study abroad in Europe, and a program in Los Angeles as well. I knew I had to get in and did.
While at Emerson my love for writing increased as I got to take writing classes in personal essay, fiction, screenplay, and children’s. I was accepted into their Europe program and spent four months living in a castle (Kasteel Well) in the small village of Well, The Netherlands. I took classes four days a week and traveled around Europe the rest of the time. How amazing it was to learn about art in my art history class and then later that week go to the Louvre in Paris or the Tate Museum in London to physically see what was printed in my text books. My love for travel continued after the program and to date I have been to thirteen foreign countries.
During my last semester of college I spent it in Los Angeles interning at MTV Films. I could walk across the Paramount lot to go get lunch and end up in line behind a famous actor or actress. It was both crazy and awesome. MTV Films treated their interns like they were part of the family. I got to spend my days reading scripts, writing script coverage, and going to the set of the movie they were making at the time, Orange County. I was in heaven.
I ended up staying in Los Angeles for a year and a half working as a receptionist/assistant at L.A. Models, a modeling and talent agency on Sunset Blvd. After a while I began to miss New Hampshire and made the decision to move back. Every time I moved to a different state I would always end up coming back to New Hampshire. It was home. Thankfully I did because if not I would have never met my husband or found the inspiration for my first published book, Lucy’s Amazing Friend. I believe some things happen for a reason.
New Hampshire doesn’t provide a lot of opportunities to work in the entertainment industry so after my return I worked for AIDs Action Committee in Boston and then as a paraprofessional in a high school. Later on I worked in government administration at the National Visa Center and then the Boston Passport Agency. Life gets crazy and not being around others who wrote, I began to write less and less. I became extremely unhappy because I felt like my current line of work was sucking the creative soul out of me yet I enjoyed helping others. I needed to find a way to combine the two into one career.
After the death of my father in 2011 and a back injury, which forced me to quit my government administration job in December of 2012, I realized I had had enough of doing what I didn’t want to do. Life is too short. My three loves are children, writing, and traveling, not working in an office. After my back healed I ended up becoming a nanny for two different families and even more determined to get my writing published. Later on I'd work on traveling more.
In March of 2013 I went to a reading at RiverRun Bookstore for Ellen Walker, author of Bringing Up John. She wrote a memoir about raising her son John, who lives with autism. It wasn't until shortly before the reading I found out my husband Tim was friends with John in high school. There is a section about Tim in her book about the impact he made on John just by being his friend. Tim had no idea. To him, John was just John. I wanted to take their friendship and turn it into a book for children. That night at the reading Lucy's Amazing Friend was born.
There is so much more left with my life I want to do and I know I will. When I decide to do something I do it. I want to travel more, finish the novel I’ve been working on for years, and publish more children’s stories. Giving back is still important to me so I became a volunteer for the Coalition of Children's Book Authors. We recently sent out a shipment of books to an orphanage in Tanzania.
I was blessed with having a husband and a family who support me as much as they do and I was able to find the creative happiness I had been missing for quite some time. Now I know I'm doing what I was meant to do. In the words of Mark Twain, "The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why." I believe the day I realized I wanted to be a writer was the day I found out why.