People often ask me why I write the strange books I write. And my answer should be, “Summer magic.” Because growing up in suburban 1960s Houston, magic was all around me. It was not the fictional kind that transformed Harry Potter, but it was magic none the less. And summer brought that magic to life.

Every morning, June to August, I’d fill my belly with cereal and set out to explore with my best friend Craig. At school, I was confined to little girl dresses and the lady-like expectations that went with them. But in the summer, I was truly free. In t-shirts, jeans and sneakers, I’d hike with Craig deep into the woods to build a fort — shade against the relentless heat of the summer tropics.

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