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        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.


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Jean Ferris
Copyright 2002 All rights reserved.
Revised: December 22, 2015.