ABOUT AVA

I was born in Los Angeles. One of my first memories is of looking out the
window of the Cadillac that my family drove across the desert when we moved to
Albuquerque, New Mexico, which is where I grew up, and where my sister and I spent
countless summer afternoons making fairy potions, battling evil witches, and playing
other imaginary games that probably contributed to my proclivity to make up stories.

My first memory of writing is as a 2nd grader. I had been assigned to write a
poem about the things I liked and why. I started out pretty unassumingly: “I like
rainbows because they are pretty. I like kittens because they are soft.” And then I
wrote, “I like my Mom—” but I couldn’t come up with the end of the sentence. I
remember it vividly because it was my first awareness of that space between a feeling,
and the language that we have to name it. No words seemed big enough. I thought
about all of the things that I loved about her, all of the fun stuff we did together, and
finally I settled on, “I like my Mom because she gave birth to me.” That just seemed the
most basic. It was, in part, her beautiful life and sudden, untimely death (just after I
had graduated college) that inspired me to write this book.

After a lot of growing up (stories for another time), I went to college at the
University of Chicago, and then received my MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop,
where I lived on the bottom floor of a farm house once occupied by Kurt Vonnegut
(how cool is that?!) and studied poetry.

After graduating from Iowa, I moved to Los Angeles with aspirations of
becoming a screenwriter, and had the good fortune to get a job working for Stephen
Chbosky, the author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. When I gave him some of my
writing, he said, “I think you should write a novel.” The idea had actually never
occurred to me before. But that night, on my drive home, I was staring absently at the
half-full moon while waiting for a red light to change, and the title popped into my
head: Love Letters to the Dead. I started writing the book that night.

Now I live in Santa Monica, in an apartment the size of a shoebox close to the
beach. Running, walking, or riding my bike by it are some of my favorite activities. My
windows are almost always open, even in the winter. (Cheers to Southern California!)
I also love going to the farmers market and buying myself flowers, binge watching TV,
and going to movies (where I am always the one crunching the popcorn during the
supposed-to-be-quiet moment). I don’t have a dog but I hope to one day very soon. I
love spending time with my boyfriend and with my wonderful family. I visit New
Mexico as often as I can (I’m addicted to its wide-open endless skies). Sometimes I
drive home from work and still feel astonished by the shock of blue water ahead of me
as I come over the hill, and I feel so grateful that I am here. That’s how I also feel about
publishing my first book, and I am profoundly grateful to you for reading it.

Growing up, with my family
in New Mexico.
The beach near my apartment
in Santa Monica.