About Leigh Arrathoon

Hi,

I am a teacher (French, Spanish, and English) and a writer. I have been speaking French for as long as I have spoken English. I began learning Spanish when I was three, because I lived in California and was surrounded by Mexican people. However, I didn’t learn to speak Spanish until I was in high school. I have my Masters in French from Stanford University and a Masters and a Ph.D. in French from Princeton University. I have a Masters in Spanish from Stanford University. I have worked at the United Nations in New York, in the Information and Reception Unit, and taught at various universities and colleges, including Stanford (T.A.), Princeton (University Fellow), Rider College (Assistant Professor), Oakland University (Assistant Professor), Oakland Community College and Rochester College (Adjunct Professor). I also tutor the three languages at home, at other people’s homes, and with Skype. I actually love teaching with Skype, because students are always willing to hold their computer up to the window so I can see the place where they are. Thus, in addition to living in Switzerland, France, and Great Britain, I have had tiny virtual tours all over the world. I have studied at Oxford (Princeton’s sister school in Great Britain), the University of Geneva, the University of Lausanne, and the University of Lille in Boulogne-Sur-Mer.  I also spent six weeks in China and Russia.

I have never taken a full-time academic position, although I have been groomed for one, because my passion is fiction. I’ve been writing it since I was 6 years old, only pausing to do a stint as a literary critic. I published three books on the literary fiction of the Middle Ages (The Craft of Fiction: Essays in Medieval Poetics, Chaucer and the Craft of Fiction, and The Chastelaine de Vergi – a new edition), as well as a spate of articles. Much of the Craft of Fiction has been reprinted and distributed all over the world by Gale Research, and my “The Two Sarahs of Chaucer’s Merchant’s Tale” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Ball State University Forum, where it was published.  I have written and published, in a local newspaper, over 250 short stories, many of which I intend to rework and republish electronically.

I also wrote a seven-book series of historical fictions for kids 3-10 about Michigan: Jody’s Michigan Adventures. Well over 90,000 of those little books were sold. The story is about Kevin Murphy, a budding young historian, whose mother talks him into practicing his craft by telling the story of the family’s summer vacations. The only hitch is that Kevin is obliged to fold his little sister, Katie’s, fanciful fictions about her magical toy mouse, Jody, into his histories. Of course, at age 11, Kevin is already all discipline, while Katie is all wild unbridled imagination. What interested me, as an author, was the way in which discipline and imagination must function together at the service of the fiction.

I later wrote a big, hard-cover story book, Magical Adventures in Michigan, for children 10-12. That book begins when Kevin is all grown up and has finally become a novelist. His pesky little sister knocks on his door, begging him to write about the Wizard of Paint Creek, the character, who supposedly made her stuffed mouse, Jody. As with the earlier books, Native American history is woven together with American history throughout the text. I had been asked to write history books for kids, and I couldn’t imagine writing American history without giving equal importance to the real founders of this nation.

Later, I  began writing historical fictions for young adults, ages 11-15, the first of which won the Michigan State History Award for books for children and young adults. The name of the series is The Journals of Kevin Murphy (after the Journals of Lewis and Clark), and that first volume, which I have just published electronically, is called, Summer of the Bear. Kevin Murphy looks back upon the summer adventures of his teen years. In this first book, he discovers the history of the voyageurs and the fur traders in Michigan. He also learns about bears and bearwalkers, and the value of working together as a team. The second volume is Son of Fireheart, set in north-centr

al California (to be published very shortly). This book shows the passage of an Esselen Indian boy from a homeless delinquent to an important, contributing member of his tribe. The boy, Esteban,  is Kevin’s friend, and, again, it is Kevin, who tells the story. The third book is Eagle from the Dawn, which is set in Montana, Idaho, and Oregon. This books is concerned with Kevin’s learning to let go and love through his relationship with a mustang and an unforgettable trip across the Rockies with a Nez Perce friend.  I wrote a spinoff of these books, called Indian Summer, which is also an historical novel.  Indian Summer is set at Stanford, because the Stanford campus is built upon the Ohlone Indian homelands. This time the book is for ages 18-25, and the story is about choosing the right marriage partner. The scenery is gorgeous, and the heroine, Katie Murphy (Kevin’s little sister), spends an emotional Indian summer (i.e., time of transition between summer and winter) with an Ohlone psychology student, with whom she is very much in love.

I have already written several other novels for adults, which I intend to work on at my leisure, and I have a ton of ideas for new novels and stories. I am so grateful to my friend, Charlie Weatherford, the science fiction writer, who taught me how to convert my novels to html so I could put them online.  I look forward to spending my old age writing and publishing my books and stories, bicycling (while listening to telenovelas), and loving my beautiful cats.

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