I had what I now realize was the perfect childhood for a writer--a somewhat lonely one
because we moved a lot; one in which books were always friends and comfort. Three things I
did in each new place: I eavesdropped on other people's conversations in an attempt to
find clues to the local ways; for the same reason, I looked into the lighted windows of
other people's houses at dusk as my father drove down the new streets; and I kept a diary
about what I did and how I felt and what I was thinking. These three things were the basis
of the stories I began to write for myself: what I heard, saw and felt. I'm still
eavesdropping, peeping and keeping a journal. And writing stories, too.
After attending three different high schools, I went
to Stanford University. I got a B.A. and M.A. in Speech Pathology and Audiology which
seemed, for some reason, like a good idea at the time, but which turned out to be work I
didn't enjoy and wasn't well-suited to. I didn't even notice that whenever I had room in
my schedule, I took an English class. I didn't even notice that I was still writing piles
of stories--after all, I'd been doing that since I was seven, when I had no ideas about
getting published. In fact, getting published didn't occur to me until I was in my
mid-thirties and my husband became concerned about the boxes of stories that were
accumulating under the bed.
I wrote my first novel for young adults when my own
children were in junior high school and had a friend who tried to commit suicide. I wanted
to understand how she had decided, at fourteen, that there would never, ever again be
anything worth living for. That was AMEN, MOSES GARDENIA, published in 1983.
Since then I've tried to write other things--screenplays,
an adult mystery, an adult historical novel, a middle-grade novel--but they haven't
worked. What I most love writing about is teenagers. Adolescence is a time of great
change--every day there are changes in body, spirit, ideas, friendships--and change is
such an interesting thing to write about, though often not to live through. I've had other
jobs, so I know how bad a bad job can be. That's why I feel so lucky that I get to do,
every day, something I love as much as I love writing for teens.
Mrs. Ferris was a long-time resident of San Diego California. She is survived by her husband a retired lawyer and two daughters, one of whom is a college professor and the other is a television journalist. All her life she love to read, travel and take
long walks with my friends.