About Mary E. Kingsley:
I was born in Kingsport, Tennessee, a town tucked up in the northeastern part of the state, not far from the Virginia, Kentucky and North Carolina lines. Although the town itself sits in a valley along the Holston River, the surrounding hills of southern Appalachia defined the local culture and shaped my childhood.
I was the middle child between two brothers and spent my days outside, riding bikes, running around the ravine or down the hill at the barn, hanging around the horses, and wishing I could have one. I loved to read and began to write as soon as I could put words on paper. I have one from when I was six years old, one page written on newsprint and illustrated with crayon entitled “The Little Brown Puppy.” My mother—my biggest fan—had it framed.
Writing continued to be an important part of my childhood and adolescence. I wrote stories and poems, mostly in secret, wishing I could share these things but not knowing how. Somewhere along the line I got the idea that writers were a rare breed and for whatever reason I couldn’t really be one, so I would just write on my own. I grew up, went to school, chose a profession and got married. I had babies, lost babies, found yoga, lost faith in some things, but found a path to others, all while reading, writing, and journaling the weaving of my own life story–still with a great desire to share.
Family life was a full time job, and I might have convinced myself that writing was a good hobby, something for my spare time, had it not been for a recurring, extraordinarily disturbing dream. Night after night I awoke with a jolt and my heart racing, thinking that I had abandoned a child somewhere– strapped in a car, on a street corner, or alone in a house. A wise friend suggested that perhaps the abandoned child was actually a part of me, my neglected creative self. The message was clear– it was time to claim myself as a writer.
On the first day that all three of my children were away at school, I sat down at the kitchen table and wrote a short story from start to finish. It felt healing to a part of me that needed to be tended and nourished. I knew that I had to make writing an integral part of my life, no matter what came of it.
In the years that followed I wrote essays, parts of novels, and short stories, culminating in an unpublished collection entitled Stories for a Waxing Moon, which included first, second, and third place winners at the Virginia Highlands Festival Creative Writing Contest, and one that was published in an anthology called O, Georgia! A Collection of Georgia’s Newest and Most Promising Writers. I also wrote and published a small volume of meditations and essays entitled Prayers and Seven Contemplations of the Sacred Mother (Woven Word Press, 2004). It was about this time that I began writing Angel. It took a while, with three teenagers to raise and a long distance move, but there’s really no stopping a story that wants to be told.
So now the book is here, and I hope you enjoy it. Writing Angel has been a huge experience for me. I learned that if I showed up, so would she. I love her, and I hope that even when she’s flown the nest she’ll still be speaking to me. I have lots to tell of stories to tell, so stick with me because the next one’s not going to take as long.