About Me

On the day I came into the world, my mom thought she had a bad case of indigestion from lasagna consumed the night before.

No, it was just me.

My grandfather had flown to California for my impending birth. He and my dad were disappointed that they had to cancel a planned fishing trip to drive my mom to the hospital. My dad had a two-seater sports car. He was the only person who knew how to drive a stick shift; my grandfather was too, shall we say, hefty to fit in the back, so my nine-months-pregnant mom squeezed in behind them.

The hospital was still being built, so a converted mess hall (that’s what the Army very appropriately calls a cafeteria) served as the temporary labor and delivery suite. My mom was given sheets and told to make her own bed.

The Army required my parents to submit baby names several months before I was born. If I were a boy, I would have been John Joseph. My mom wanted to name me Gina. (Too Italian, my dad said.) So they settled on Jeanne Marie.

My father was drafted into the army during the Vietnam War, but he never went to Vietnam. Instead, the Army trained him as a Korean linguist, and he spent six years of my childhood in South Korea. Because he was stationed on the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea) and this area was considered too dangerous for families, my mom and I stayed behind in the U.S.

Considering all this, it’s probably no surprise that I’m an only child. As a kid moving from place to place, I wished desperately for brothers or sisters. I figured I must be a lot of work (and I probably was) if my parents didn’t want any more kids. But once I got to high school, I came to appreciate that there were definitely pluses to being an only child.

My Italian grandmother moved in with us when I was six. We shared a
room until I was twelve. She snored loudly and refused to let us sleep with the windows open– even when it was a hundred degrees out (and we didn’t have air conditioning). She was the closest thing I had to a sibling. We fought a lot, and we loved each other a lot.

We also had golden retrievers (Misty, Amber, Casey, Riley, and Connor). My grandmother used to tell me that the dog knew how to cook better than I did because at least she watched. She was probably right.

By the beginning of third grade, I had attended six elementary schools. I was in eighth grade before I ever lived off of an Army base. Talk about culture shock!

Third grade was also the year I realized I wanted to be a writer. Specifically, I wanted to write for kids. While many grown-ups tried to convince me that this was not a wise career path and that I would never pay my bills (and they were probably right), I always kept this goal in sight. More important, I always wrote.

After college, I moved to Los Angeles (Burbank, to be specific) to begin an unpaid internship on my favorite TV soap opera, DAYS OF OUR LIVES. My grandmother had started me on my lifelong soap addiction – who knew it would be a career path?

She watched ALL MY CHILDREN but would switch to DAYS at the end just to see my name in the credits.

Eventually, I got hired and paid a little more than nothing to be a writers’ assistant. It might sound like a glamorous job. It was not.

A writers’ assistant:

  • Makes (a lot of) coffee
  • Fetches lunches for picky writers
  • Makes thousands of copies
  • Gets very friendly with the copier repair person

Yes, I did “meet” the actors. No, they did not really talk to me. And I was so shy that if they had, I wouldn’t have known what to say anyway.

I feel very lucky to have the job I’ve dreamed about most of my life. And now I can tell my kids, “Your mommy wrote that book.”

Army brat from the start

Army brat from the start

My dad went to Korea, and all he brought me was this cool Halloween costume

My dad went to Korea, and all he brought me was this cool Halloween costume

Bananas fresh from the backyard are the best

Bananas fresh from the backyard are the best

Writer (almost) from the start

Writer (almost) from the start

Laura Ingalls Wilder for Halloween... 4 years in a row (Can you tell it was the '70s?)

Laura Ingalls Wilder for Halloween... 4 years in a row (Can you tell it was the '70s?)

The things you learn in Hawaii

The things you learn in Hawaii

Guess who?

Guess who?

All materials © 2017 Jeanne Marie Grunwell Ford. Web site by Websy Daisy.