Shevi Arnold

From Shevi Arnold:
I don't know how old I was when I first became a storyteller, but I do know I was quite young.

I remember telling my youngest cousins and my older cousins' children stories when I was about ten. I loved the excited look on their faces, how my stories drew them in and captured their imaginations and their hearts. I also remember telling stories to the younger children on the van ride to school. I particularly remember one little girl who would ask over and over, "What happened next?"

It was such a delightful question to answer.

As I was growing up, I read anything and everything I could get my hands on. I read encyclopedias and science magazines, because I was very curious and couldn't read enough about this world. I also read a ton of comic books, particular collections of Peanuts strips. My favorite books were funny, fantasy or science fiction. I loved the works of Peter S. Beagle, Ursula Le Guin, Anne McCaffrey, J.R.R. Tolkien, Gene Wolfe, Harlan Ellison, Douglas Adams, Isaac Asimov, Orson Scott Card, John Barth, Thomas Pynchon, and so many others.

But while I enjoyed these books, I kept looking for one about a girl like me, a girl who loved stories and loved telling them. I knew stories were magical, perhaps even the most magical thing we can experience. I couldn't possibly be the only one who felt like this, could I? And who better to write about this particular magic than a storyteller? But the more I looked, the more I realized the book I so desperately wanted to read did not exist. No one had written it yet.

And that's how Toren the Teller's Tale was born.

It was a story I told myself, the story I needed to hear, and it gave me comfort through the years. But life got in the way. After graduating from college, I got a job at a newspaper. I went from being an editorial cartoonist to an arts-and-entertainment writer and a consumer columnist. And I loved it.

Unfortunately, I had to leave my job and my old life behind when my family moved to New Jersey in search of a better education for my autistic son. I didn't know what to do. If I couldn't write, edit, or illustrate for a newspaper or magazine, who was I? What was I?

A few months passed before I realized the answers to those questions. I was still the little girl who loved telling stories to the other children in the van on the way to school. Toren's story had given me so much joy over the years. And I had been selfish. Somewhere in the world there had to be someone just like the girl I had been, someone who desperately needed a story about the greatest magic of all. It wasn't just Toren's story. It was my story, too, and the story of every storyteller who's ever lived.

Perhaps it's your story too.