I love the spilling of ink from head to heart to page.
Bio for Kids
When author Mary Amato was your age she had a pet turtle who ran away and three older sisters who tried to convince her that she was a cow. She loved to read, but didn’t believe she could become a writer because she thought that all books were written a long time ago and that all the people who wrote them were dead. She wasn’t very bright.
It took her a long time to become a writer. It still takes her a long time to write each book because she makes a lots of mistakes. The amazing letters she gets from kids about her books encourage her to keep trying. Her favorite color is purple and her favorite food is dark chocolate. She loves very sharp pencils, high-quality black pens, pocket-sized writer’s notebooks without lines, and the wondrous energy of children and teens.
She thinks it is hilarious when principals introduce her to students by saying, “Today, we get to meet a real, live author!” She is delighted not to be a fake, dead author. That would not be as fun.
Bio for Grown-Ups
Mary Amato is an award-winning children’s and YA book author, poet, playwright, and songwriter. Her books have been translated into foreign languages, optioned for television, produced onstage, and have won the children’s choice awards in Ohio, Minnesota, Utah, and Arizona. She teaches popular workshops on writing and the creative process around the country.
More Personal Info
I started writing at the age of seven when my mother handed me a little spiral notebook and told me to keep a journal of our trip to California. I liked the fact that I could record something in my journal and then read it later. My favorite books as a child were Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh because Harriet was a terrific journal keeper and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.
I do an insane amount of appearances and teaching. I love connecting with readers and writers. Schools and libraries bring me in for large-scale assemblies and classroom workshops. I also teach grown ups how to unleash their inner kids. Besides focusing on creative writing, I teach songwriting, ukulele, story inventing, and more and lead workshops and retreats for all ages for a huge number of organizations. Take a glimpse at my appearance schedule. See the teaching section for more. I’m a Maryland State Arts Council teaching artist and am also on the approved list for many schools.
I love to play music and write songs. I perform in the Maryland-Washington, D.C. area. You can hear some of my music on SoundCloud. Recently I’ve been working on a series of love songs inspired by STEM metaphors. I was a dancer and choreographer for many years and still work from time to time in the theater.
I am also the co-founder of Firefly Shadow Theater where I design puppets and write and direct shows with Andrea Caspari.
You can see and share one of our recent productions, an original story called The Chair.
I’ve adapted some of my books for the stage including: The Chicken of the Family Musical.
In graduate school, I studied fiction writing and poetry at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC. As an undergraduate, I studied special education and dance at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.
See the books section for a complete list. You can find a bibliography to download there.
I’ve written lots of articles, essays, and poems for magazines and newspapers, including Muse, Cicada, The Washington Post, Parenting and Mothering.
Awards and Honors
I have been honored to receive many awards and grants, including: MLA’s William G. Wilson Maryland Author Award, The Beehive Book Award, The Maud Hart Lovelace Award, The Buckeye Children’s Book Award, AZLA Young Readers’ Award, Fellowship for Children’s Novel-in-Progress, The Heekin Foundation, Grant for Work-in-Progress from The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), SCBWI National Magazine Merit Award, National Endowment for the Arts Grant through Lima Symphony Orchestra, Target’s Arts in Education Grant, The Washington Post’s Grant in the Arts, Visiting Artist Grants from the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, Maryland; City of Hyattsville Thrive Grant, and the Keisler Prize for Poetry, Indiana University.
Volunteer Service and Memberships
With colleague Diana Friedman, I founded the Creative Momentum Collective, a group of artists working in a variety of disciplines who meet to discuss process and progress. I am also the founder of the The HIVE, The Writer’s Studio with Mary Amato, SoHy Sing, and The Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. Arts Salon, all monthly gatherings of writers or interdisciplinary artists and musicians. I have done (or am doing) projects with lots of wonderful non-profits, including works with Ukes on the Move, Carpe Diem Arts, An Open Book Foundation, Passion for Learning, Guitars Not Guns, Friends of the Library, Notes for Notes, Montgomery County (MD) Schools, PG County Schools, Riversdale House Museum, Pyramid Atlantic Arts Center, College Park Arts Exchange, and many other non-profits. Each year, I donate a free Skype/Zoom day for schools across the world on a first come, first served basis, and a “Mary in Maryland” grant for one in-person presentation to a low income school or a non-profit organization. I’m a member of SCBWI and The Children Book Guild of Washington and, of course, my Friends of the Library (Hyattsville branch).
- Pencil: Blackwing
- Pen: Pentel Energel
- Notebook: Moleskin unlined 3.5″ x 5.5″ for my writer’s notebooks and Mead composition books (with paper from Vietnam), college ruled, for dedicated project notebooks.
- Food: Dark chocolate with almonds
- Beverage: Black tea, stepped for four minutes, then cut with hot milk.
- Aroma: AuraCacia’s Creative Juice
- Music: I listen to a different playlist for each project–mostly score composers for novels. Rachel Portman often makes the list.
- Meditation: Jeff Warren’s Daily Trips.
- Exercise: thrice weekly online sessions with The Life of Gains.