Ana Maria Spagna lives and writes in Stehekin, Washington, a remote community in the North Cascades accessible only by boat, trail, or float plane. But don’t worry! She has not always lived such an insular life. Born in Bogotá, Colombia and raised in Riverside, California, Ana Maria was a book-loving kid who liked sports but knew nothing about the outdoors. She never camped until, as a teenager, traveled to Oregon and — well, there’s no other way to say it — fell in love. After college, she settled in to working on backcountry trail crews for the National Park Service in summer and writing in winter. Ana Maria is the author most recently of The Luckiest Scar on Earth about Charlotte, a 14 year-old snowboarder and her eccentric father, and 100 Skills You’ll Need for the End of the World (as We Know It) a humor-infused exploration of how to live more lightly on the planet, winner of a 2015 Nautilus Award. Her previous books include Reclaimers, the story of people reclaiming sacred land and water, the memoir/history Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus, winner of the River Teeth literary nonfiction prize, and two collections of essays, Potluck, finalist for the Washington State Book Award, and Now Go Home, a Seattle Times Best Book of 2004. After fifteen years on the trail, she turned to teaching. She has taught creative writing at Northwest Institute of Literary Arts, where she directed the MFA program, at Antioch University, Los Angeles, at conferences around the country, and each winter in the one-room school in Stehekin. Her stories about nature, family, civil rights, and life in a small community appear regularly in magazines and journals. You can learn more at AnaMariaSpagna.com.
Our fifth and sixth graders were treated to a writer’s session with Ana Maria. She was engaging, intelligent, and real with our students. Ana Maria inspired the would-be writers in our group with her easy-going manner and excitement for all sorts of eleven and twelve year old ideas for fiction. Ana Maria was able to get even the most reticent writers to imagine the power behind a pen. She inspired students with her own writing and her stories about becoming a published author. She also left us all with great writing advice:
“Write about something you know really well, and then add a little bit of trouble to the story. This makes good writing.”
- Claudia Bertolone-Smith, Minden Elementary School, Minden, Nevada
"Ana Maria Spagna is a great teacher, writer, and communicator. I know this from being an adult student in one of her writing workshops as well as watching her as a presenter at our Young Writers Conference in our Elementary School! She has lots of personal enthusiasm that spills out in delightful and intelligent ways. "
- Tammie Ellis, Elementary Teacher