My first book, Elizabeti's Doll, is about a Tanzanian girl who has a rock for a doll. While my Peace Corps experiences were paramount to the inspiration for that story, I've been thinking lately about inspiration we don't consider. The photo above is me in 1970, at age 5, with my dolls. I loved dolls. My favorite was my Drowsy doll, and then I had a Buffy doll from Family Affair, complete with a tiny Mrs. Beasley. As I got a little older, I became obsessed with Barbies. I even had one of those Tuesday Taylor Barbies where she was blonde on one side, then you twirled her scalp and she was a brunette. Hmmmm.
I have two daughters, and when they were little, they loved dolls, too. My best friend from childhood happens to be a designer for American Girl, so she got me some good discounts at Christmas and birthdays.
So sometimes I get asked about my Elizabeti books. Like, don't I feel invasive, writing about a little girl from a different country? Don't I feel like I'm stealing someone's story?
And then I think about me. I was once a little girl who loved dolls. I think about my daughters, who, more recently, were little girls that loved dolls. And it seems natural for me to write about a little girl who loves dolls... After all, that's my story.