I’ve loved words and language since grade school when my younger sister and I crafted homemade comic books featuring the adventures of dogs and cats–think Snoopy meets Garfield. I wrote the text, while she provided the illustrations. In 7th grade, I finally was old enough to skip the long school bus ride and walk after school to the library where my mom picked me up on her way home. Tall bookshelves were my refuge from bullies, my place for quiet study; the friendly librarian, my underpaid babysitter. That year my love of words went beyond bookworm to bibliomaniac. Unraveling mysteries in the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series challenged my reasoning skills. Mark Twain’s humor inspired me to fill lined notebooks with funny quotations. I still love a great joke or an awesome opening paragraph, whether it makes me laugh, cry or think.
My interest in Deaf friends and American Sign Language began in high school and bloomed into a part-time job in college while I earned my English degree. Little did I know that the summer volunteer job my parents arranged to keep me out of trouble would become my life’s vocation. At the time, I’d planned on law school, although my parents were convinced I’d be a famous novelist. Instead, my fascination with language and Deaf Culture led me to work as an ASL interpreter. After college and a wedding, we spent a five-year honeymoon in Hawaii before settling in Nebraska. In hindsight, years became decades faster than I can fathom. Four children and a long interpreting career later, I’m celebrating my recent independence from carpools and PTO bake sales by plunging into writing. The elated thrill that washed over me shortly before midnight on November 30th, 2014 when I clicked SEND on my first 50,000-word National Novel Writing Month draft convinced me I’m not limited to one Thing.
You can call me seasoned, a veteran or just old. From my books, you’ll get to learn about Deaf Culture, American Sign Language, Hawai’i, Nebraska, being a daughter in a big Irish Catholic family, a wife and mother, cooking, baking, sports, dogs and whatever new hobby I’m into next. Life is a great ride, and I’d love to take you down the road with me–300 pages of twisty turning adventures at a time.
Kelly Brakenhoff is an American Sign Language interpreter and writer who lived in Connecticut, Hawai’i and Washington before settling in Nebraska for the past 22 years. The Book Doctors’ 2016 NaNoWriMo Pitchapalooza fan favorite, she is a scone baker, chocolate lover, wife and mother of four young adults, one Cockapoo and a German Wire-haired Pointer puppy. When she’s not working on her mystery novels or interpreting, she trains for half-marathons because she really likes dessert.