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 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 one of our recent explorations for adults as well as one of our children’s shows on my YouTube channel. I’ve adapted some of my books for the stage: The Chicken of the Family Musical (in collaboration with Richard Washer) and The Riot Brothers.
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, including: MLA’s William G. Wilson Maryland Author Award; The Beehive Book Award, The Maud Hart Lovelace Award, The Buckeye Children’s Book Award; Fellowship for Children’s Novel-in-Progress, The Heekin Foundation; Grant for Work-in-Progress, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI); SCBWI National Magazine Merit Award; AZLA Young Readers’ Award; Arts in Education Grant, Target; Grant in the Arts, The Washington Post; Visiting Artist Grants, Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County, Maryland; Keisler Prize for Poetry, Indiana University.
Volunteer Service and Memberships
I am the founder of the The HIVE, The Brown Bag for Creatives, SoHy Sing, and The Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. Arts Salon, all monthly gatherings of interdisciplinary artists and musicians. I am co-facilitator of The Okay Cafe, a monthly songwriting salon. 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 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).