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Leah had taught her parents a lesson, all right. Here she was, alone on this smelly hide-a-bed in Hope’s living room, the springs poking into her back, wishing more than anything else in the world she was home, in her own room, in her own comfortable bed. She missed her little sister. She had no one to talk to, no one she could rely on. She was all alone here.
Hope’s response to her arrival this morning had been lukewarm. “I guess you can stay,” Hope had said. “I’ll tell my mom it’s just for tonight, so she doesn’t think you’re moving in or anything. You’ll have to sleep on the couch.” As if Leah had planned to confiscate her room.
Strangely enough, Leah missed her parents. Hope’s mom was cool, but she was not Leah’s mother.
Now she could never go back. After the scene in the car, she could never face her parents; she could never look them in the eye. What was wrong with her? Why couldn’t she keep her stupid trap shut? Her parents hadn’t disowned her exactly; she’d seen their disgust, the revulsion in their eyes. They were probably glad she’d left; glad to be rid of her. Not that she blamed them. She’d disappointed them—again. She’d disappointed everyone. Her mother, her father. Coach Thomas. The girls on her soccer team. The high school dean, who, “for the life of me, Leah,” could not understand why such a bright girl would skip class or let her grades slide. She’d alienated her teachers. Withdrawn from old friends. When she approached, the kids turned their heads or walked away. Worst of all, she’d disappointed Justine.
It wasn’t until high school that Terri Giuliano Long realized she wanted to be a writer.
“I always envisioned myself as a graphic artist or a painter,” she recalls. “As a child, I would spend hours alone in my bedroom, sprawled on the floor, drawing outfits for my paper dolls, making up stories, and acting in my own improvisational plays.”
After taking an advanced writing course her sophomore year, Terri discovered her passion for storytelling through the written word, and at 16, she landed her first job as a reporter for The Billerica Minuteman, a daily newspaper produced in her hometown of Billerica, Mass. “At first, I covered sports and other high school news, but after a few months, I was given my own column” she says. “Even though I earned about a dollar a week, I knew then that the only job I’d ever want would be as a writer.”
After graduation, Terri worked as a reporter for the Chelmsford Independent and began freelancing for a variety of other publications, including the Minuteman Chronicle, for which she was a columnist After serving as editor-in-chief of a fitness magazine, she worked in a variety of jobs: writing copy for marketing, advertising, and public relations; editing technical articles for trade journals; and website consulting.
In 1995, Terri, who had received an AB in philosophy fromBostonCollege, enrolled inEmersonCollege’s MFA program to refocus her career and concentrate on literary fiction. At this time, she also began teaching creative and non-fiction writing at Boston College.
In 1998, Terri started to write her first novel, In Leah’s Wake, as part of her graduate thesis. Drawing inspiration from her experiences at the Chelmsford Independent, she completed the first draft within three months. She recalls, “As a young newspaper reporter, I had written a series of feature articles about families with drug and alcohol-addicted teens. The moms talked candidly about their children, their heartbreaking struggles. Those stories stayed with me.”
Terri, the mother of four daughters, says her primary inspiration comes from observing human nature. She also has an abiding interest in existential philosophy. “Watching and listening to people, hearing their stories – this inspires me,” she says.
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