Annemarie O’Brien has an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She teaches creative writing courses at UC Berkeley Extension, Stanford Continuing Studies, Pixar, and DreamWorks, as well as edits children’s books for Room to Read which advocates literacy in developing countries. Lara’s Gift is her debut middle grade novel inspired from a former life when she lived and worked in the former Soviet Union during the Gorbachev era and was gifted Dasha, her first borzoi puppy.
I consider myself a citizen of the world and can find a piece of home in many of the countries where I have lived, as well as in those countries where I have friends or have spent a good chunk of time. My work abroad has taken me around the world from neighboring countries like Canada and Mexico to places as far away as Thailand and China where I have:
ridden the Trans-Siberian Railway across Russia;
journeyed along the Silk Road through Kazakstan and Uzbekistan;
sailed the northern lakes of Russia with the Soviet Olympic Yacht team;
dodged landmines in Bosnia;
heli-skied the Tien Shan mountains in Kyrgyzstan;
tracked down my maternal family roots to shipbuilders in Galaxidi, Greece;
traced Anne Frank’s last steps along the Amsterdam canals;
lived in an English castle, as well as a Kyrgyz Yurt;
bought tekke rugs in Turkmenistan as Marco Polo might have done;
bartered Levi jeans for Polish amber during the Cold War era;
toured Volvo in Sweden and the Salvador Dali museum in Spain;
met Queen Margrethe II of Denmark;
paid homage to Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid in Copenhagen Harbor;
eaten caviar in Russia, snails in France, and sheep eyeballs in Kyrgyzstan;
fed bongos in Kenya, camels in Turkmenistan, and elephants in Thailand;
met Mikhail Gorbachev at the Kremlin in Moscow;
heard Pope John Paul II deliver an outdoor Mass during a Sarajevan snowstorm!
And I will never tire of long walks through a forest of birches.
It is my hope that the adventures never stop. I still dream of meeting a snow leopard in Tajikistan or a panda in China. I also dream of returning to my old stomping grounds overseas to visit friends and recall memories to fuel future stories.
For now home is currently in the San Francisco Bay area where I live with my family, a silken windhound named Zeus, and two borzoi, Zola and Zar who inspired the fictional canine characters in Lara’s Gift.
Thank you for visiting!
Until the next time …
Dream big and trust your gift!