Tawni was born to a couple of uber-smart-hippies-turned-preachers who took her to a deserted New Mexico mountain when she was four. She had no television and very little access to modern media, but she and her big brother would often wander to the library of a nearby abandoned hippie commune and “borrow” books. The kids ran around naked a lot. Tawni has yet to break the habit.
The family raised all their own food, so Tawni could tell you a thing or two about tomato-worm-induced trauma. Tawni’s momma sewed most of the family’s clothing. She also allowed the children to dress themselves however they pleased, with no commentary from the parental peanut gallery. This meant that when Tawni was bussed to the nearest school, she often went wearing a white silk slip on her head. She thought it the height of fashion. In other news, she memorized poems and recited them for fun. She didn’t know who Michael Jackson was, but she knew Madonna had something to do with the Virgin Mary. She couldn’t figure out why nobody wanted to play with her.
Every night, her daddy read to her and her brother for hours. Of course she became a writer when she grew up. What else was she going to do?
FAILURE TO ADAPT TO MAINSTREAM SOCIETY
Tawni tried normal life for a while, but it didn’t stick. The best thing that happened to her during her foray into normalcy was the birth of her two amazing children, Desi and Tim. Desi is now a graphic novelist. Tim is getting a degree in graphic design. They are almost as weird as their mom.
While Tawni was trying to be normal, she married a pilot. She fell in love with travel during their marriage. She also fell in love with the lead singer of a rock band and followed them all over the U.S., Mexico, and the U.K. for almost two decades. While she was traveling, she started writing, selling, and winning awards for her travel stories. She periodically took time off from traveling to act in plays. She starred in about 20 of them.
Somewhere along the way, she got an MFA from the University of New Orleans, graduating with distinction. She defended her thesis on the porch of a historic hotel in New Orleans. Inconceivably, Wallace Shawn was sitting there having a beverage about five feet away. Talk about pressure.
FINALLY, BEING A FREAK OF NATURE PAYS OFF
When Tawni hit 40, she fulfilled her lifelong dream of selling a book to a major publisher. Her debut novel, Beauty of the Broken,published by Simon & Schuster, won multiple awards, including the prestigious International Literacy Association Award for Young Adult Literature. Her first poetry book, Siren Song, a collection of goddess and love poems scribbled on airplanes, at rest stops, and occasionally, in porta potties while she was following aforementioned rock band, was published by Burlesque Press the same year. Her second novel, The Long Ride Home, will be released by Sourcebooks Fire in Fall 2017. She publishes in journals, anthologies, and magazines regularly.
Tawni never shook the travel bug. She wanders the world speaking, reading, performing and teaching at universities, conferences, retreats, and schools. Sometimes, when she is in foreign countries, she buys weird hats. She thinks it’s a throwback to the whole “wearing a slip on her head” phase she went through in elementary school. She found out who Michael Jackson was. She thinks Madonna is bad ass and that if fingerless lace gloves come back in tomorrow, it won’t be too soon. She still memorizes poems and performs them for fun.
Now people listen.