by | Sep 2, 2023 | Tosca Lee, On writing | 3 comments

By Tosca Lee

Earlier today I peeked at a list of questions sent to me ahead of an upcoming interview. One of them was this:

What got you into writing?

I’ve shared the story of how my dad made a deal with me to write my first novel during a summer in college. But I’d already been writing (not novels, but short stories and poems inspired by Shel Silverstein and illustrated by my friends) and even been published in a local newsletter (when newsletter were printed and delivered to real mailboxes) and had won some awards.  I hadn’t thought of pursuing it as a career til that summer in 1989, but I’d actually been writing for a long time.


So what really got me into writing?


Teachers, telling me to write about my beloved bulldog for a local pet-lovers’ newsletter. Teachers, encouraging me (okay, probably everyone, but I thought she was talking to me) to enter the Nebraska Young Authors competition. And the teacher who undertook a short story writing independent study with me in high school and said maybe we should look for some contests to enter.

Thank you, teachers, for the way you encourage. Thank you, Mrs. Bush, Pat Kaltenberger, Anne Cognard, Craig Davis, and Daniel Mueller.

a tribute to teachers

What teachers were integral to you in your career—before you even knew you’d pursue it?

Don’t Miss a Thing!



  1. Rogue Women Writers

    I was the kind of annoying classmate who got along fine with my teachers (though not actually a teacher’s pet) and still remember almost all of them fondly–usually my English teachers most of all. I remember writing a short comedic Shakespeare-like play in high school featuring Greek gods. I showed it to Mr. Moderick at Holy Name in Parma Heights and he laughed at how I portrayed Paris and that probably did more to encourage me than anything else. (Follow up: I contacted him after I got published and he still follows my career!)

    Lisa Black

  2. Karna Small Bodman

    You are so right about how certain teachers inspire us. I particularly remember my World History teacher in High School, Mrs. Kilpatrick – who was legendary and gave me a life-long interest in world affairs, which translated to my work in government and later into writing international thrillers. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Tosca Lee

    I had a major moment earlier this year when one of my beloved instructors asked me to endorse his upcoming story collection. I was so grateful and honored to do so.