Marissa Moss grew up in a home where reading was a central part of daily life. "We went to the library every week," she says. "Once I opened a book, I felt compelled to finish it. I was drawn into a world and I had to know what would happen, how it would end."
Marissa has said that her own childhood inspired her to write about Amelia, the beloved character that kids across the country adore. "I always kept as notebook as a girl and loved to read those of others," she explained. "My memories of being nine or ten years old are especially vivid, since this is the time when you have a real sense of who you are -- before the self-conscious preteen years start. Before I began writing the first Amelia book, I bought a composition book at the drug store and wrote down as much as I could remember about my life at that time. Amelia is very much based on me, and my sister is the model for her older sister, Cleo."
Tackling Rachel's Journal presented Marissa with new challenges. Obviously she had to call on more than childhood memories to shape this heroine, who in 1850 travels with her family along the Oregon Trail from Illinois to California. "I had to make this voice as real, yet I clearly couldn't rely on my life here, " Marissa said. "Though I began my research by reading some general history on this period, I soon narrowed my focus to reading firsthand accounts written by pioneers at this time -- mostly women and children."
Rachel's Journal provided Marissa with an opportunity to write a different kind of book, but she says she doesn't expect as many kids to identify themselves with her historical heroines as with Amelia. " I hope it [Rachel's Journal] inspires a different kind of reading from kids--a hunger for historical sources and the way they can make a strange, vague period of the past seem vivid and familiar."
Marissa lives in Berkeley, California with her husband and three children.