Q: Where are you from?
A: I’m a Utah native who grew up in Wyoming from fifth grade through the end of my freshman year of college. I’ve also lived in Rexburg, Idaho; Cardiff, Wales, UK; Brookings, South Dakota; Washington, D.C.; and Ogden and Cottonwood Heights, Utah, before moving to Midvale, where we’ve lived for almost 20 years.
Q: What and where have you studied?
A: I started out as an English/secondary education major, then realized to my shock that my future students probably would not like literature as much as I did. About that time, I discovered my love for journalism, so I switched majors. I attended BYU–Idaho for five semesters, then took a couple of years off (I had a six-month internship at Gannett News Service, where I met my husband, followed him home to South Dakota, and worked for a while before going back to school). I finished my degree in news-editorial journalism at South Dakota State University with minors in German and religion, thanks to all those required religion classes at BYU–Idaho!
Q: Where have you previously worked?
A: I worked full time for the Brookings Daily Register in Brookings, South Dakota, and the Ogden Standard-Examiner here in Utah. As a freelancer, I’ve been published in lots of local and a few national publications, and I was the weekly restaurant critic for the Deseret News for eight years.
Q: Growing up, what teacher inspired you the most? How?
A: Mary Ann Bocquin, my English and humanities teacher at Green River High School in Green River, Wyoming. She was a fantastic educator who boosted by love of literature and taught me to challenge myself with books rather than just find solace in them. She also valued every one of her students as a unique person. She saw more in me than I did in myself at the time, including strength and purpose I hadn’t yet discovered. I have never stopped being inspired by her faith in me.
Q: What do you regret not starting or doing when you were younger?
A: Practice your piano, kids! Like me, you’ll regret it if you don’t. And learn to play a team sport!
Q: What was the first career you dreamed of having as a kid?
A: I’m one of those weird people who has always known exactly what I wanted to do: write. I can’t remember ever really wanting to do anything else.
Q: Best Halloween costume you have had?
A: Halloween is my favorite holiday (tied with Thanksgiving). Halloween feeds my love of the dramatic and of dressing up. I have dragged my family along on this journey and now we are all cosplayers. We plan three different group cosplay themes for the three days of the FanX convention held every fall in Salt Lake City, and we try to do them as inexpensively as we can (we call ourselves thrift-store cosplayers). This is excellent preparation for Halloween, when we usually have not only individual costumes for school, work, and trick-or-treating, but also a group costume theme for our ward trunk or treat event. We’ve dressed up as characters from anime, Supernatural, Star Wars, Stranger Things, The Addams Family, the female-cast Ghostbusters, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Spider-Man: Into the SpiderVerse, and lots more. We were actually featured on the cosplay episode of this past season of BYUtv’s Story Trek: Trending.
Q: What is your go-to weeknight meal?
A: I often make oven-baked chimichangas: mix up whatever proteins you have (and always some beans, even if you have meat) with shredded cheese, a salsa you like, and whatever else you want to throw in. Place a couple of heaping spoonfuls on a burrito-size tortilla, fold in the sides, and roll up. Put in a baking pan, brush with lots of melted butter, and bake at about 350 degrees until they’re browned and crunchy. Serve with whatever toppings you want (sour cream, more salsa, guacamole) and sides like Mexican street corn, yellow rice, or fruit salad.
Q: Where is your favorite place to go on vacation?
A: I almost don’t care where I’m going as long as I’m going somewhere—I love travel. Our kids were little road warriors because of all the road trips we did, and they love travel, too. When I retire, I plan to spend most of my money on travel and books.
Q: Would you rather spend a night out on the town or stay home inside with a book?
A: As much as I like to socialize, I might like books even more. I learned to read when I was about three years old, and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. I read a minimum of 3–5 books a week and am a major re-reader: every year, I read The Lord of the Rings and The Secret Garden, and I and just finished a tour through the novels of my favorite mystery writer, Dorothy Sayers. I also like nonfiction; my husband and I have a sort of Erik Larson Appreciation Society going. Favorite book I’ve read recently: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. It was published in 2013 but I just ran across it this year. It’s fantastic.
Q: What invention doesn’t get a lot of love, but has greatly improved the world?
A: I was just talking about this with a friend of mine: glass! The development of glass has given us modern chemistry, mirrors, microscopes, telescopes, corrected eyesight, windows, light bulbs, safe storage, fiber optics, smartphones, and I could go on and on. My close second: vaccines.
Q: What movie quotes do you use on a regular basis?
A: Really, there are too many to list, but here are a few I use weekly to daily:
- “Hey, I KNOW THAT NOW!” —Honeymoon in Vegas
- “I’ve spoken my piece and counted to three,” and “Is you is, or is you ain’t, my constituency?” —O Brother, Where Art Thou
- “I have one job on this ship. It’s stupid, but I’m going to do it!” —Galaxy Quest
- “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” —Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
All photos courtesy of Stacey Kratz.