Author Biography - Sandy Schlosser
Some of my first memories are of my father reading me the Chronicles of Narnia. He had the most annoying habit of reading only one chapter a night. I remember learning to read as quickly as possible so that I could sneak ahead in the book to find out what happened next.
I am not sure exactly when I began to write. I told myself stories constantly as a child. Games of "Let's pretend" quickly built themselves into full-length stories that my friends and I would act out. I am afraid I never grew out of "let's pretend"; I could entertain myself for hours writing stories in my head. One of the first stories I wrote down was for a class in seventh grade. The teacher had our stories evaluated by a published author. Unfortunately, my story (a spooky Halloween tale) did not even merit a mention. Rather crushed by this event, I gave up on the idea of training to be a writer and went on to receive a music degree from Houghton College. Oddly enough, I wrote my first full-length manuscript during college for a friend who also liked to write stories.
It was after college that I began taking classes in writing from the Institute of Children's Literature. Encouraged to write articles for magazines, I became intrigued with folklore and the retelling of folktales. Most of the children's magazines were publishing folktales, but I noticed that these were either retellings of well-known stories or folklore from other countries. Where, I wondered, were the old American folktales that used to entertain our ancestor's children around the fireplace (and sometimes their parents gathered at the tavern bar?)
I began working as a part-time freelance writer after graduating from the Institute of Children's Literature in 1996. By this time, I was hooked on folklore. When I started doing in-depth research on American folklore, I found an incredible wealth of stories, dating back to the origins of America. The majority of these stories are unknown today. So I started retelling folktales, hoping to preserve a wonderful American heritage that is disappearing.
By this time, I was pursuing my masters at Rutgers University. One of my final projects was to build a web site, preferably in a topic area that was not covered on the Internet (talk about a challenge!) I noticed immediately that there were no web sites that allowed students and teachers to find folklore from all fifty states. That was when AmericanFolklore.net was born.
Today, I continue to collect and retell folktales from the United States of America. I also spend time answering folklore questions from students and teachers who have made their way to my web site. My favorite e-mails come from other folklorists. We practice the old tradition of seeing who can tell the tallest tale. After reading my story on Wind (One Michigan wind was so strong it knocked a mountain over into a valley. Folks woke up the next day to find themselves living on a plain.), a Canadian enthusiast told me about a British Columbia chap named Jake. Seems the wind blew Jake's old dog up against his garage wall one day. The wind blew so hard and so strong that the hound dog starved to death before it quit. Jake had to scrape the poor old dog off the wall with a shovel. Finding that the wind had pushed the hound's shadow right into the surface of the wall, Jake buried the poor dog under the shadow and wrote his epitaph on it--"Doggone."