Amelia Loken writes Young Adult Fantasy and Contemporary fiction, exploring the courage of women who forge bridges from the shards of old obstacles, Professionally, she’s worked in the Deaf community as an ASL/English interpreter and currently in the field of assistive technology. Not only has she studied sign language, but also swordplay, embroidery, theology, disability rights, and the history of pirates; bits of this flotsam turn up in her manuscripts without invitation. She’s a member of SCBWI and a superb critique group. Much of her life was spent moving from one town to another, but today she lives in Arkansas on the edge of a wood with her husband, five sons, and no other animals.
Amelia Loken was practically raised in libraries. Her mother was a librarian and brought the family to the library every week to fill up a brown grocery bag (or two) with books to read for the week. Young Amelia loved getting lost in stories about adventure, with mystery, some danger and a bit of romance mixed in. She still loves reading those kinds of stories, and one day, when she was very sad and struggling against depression, she started writing a story of her own. She wrote and wrote and wrote. The depression lifted somewhat. As she kept writing, the story became long enough that she wondered if anyone else might want to read it. So, she started researching and learning what made a story ready to publish. She realized her story was way too long. So, she broke it into three pieces. It was still too long.
But, through the process of writing and learning how to write, Amelia found joy. She also found other writers and became friends with them. She decided she wanted to keep on writing. So she did - this time with a brand new story.
Now, at the same time Amelia had started writing, she had also started learning American Sign Language. This was because of some new friends at her church who were Deaf. They taught Amelia ASL. Over the years, Amelia gained enough skills to interpret in church and decided to pursue learning ASL at college so she could get a degree and be licensed to interpret in many other settings. It was a year before earning her Bachelor's degree in Interpreting when she took a hearing evaluation for a class and discovered that she had hearing loss. She hadn't really noticed it.
Amelia worked in Educational, Medical, and Community interpreting for a few years. However, as her hearing deteriorated, Amelia had to use different methods to ensure she could read the lips of those speaking. She worried that this would interfere with her being a good interpreter. So, when she had the opportunity, she switched to working in the field of disability assistive technology.
Amelia missed the everyday interaction with the Deaf community, and while revisiting her manuscript for UNRAVEL, she tried writing the character of Marguerite as someone who was deaf, but denied the opportunity to learn sign language. This new aspect brought Marguerite to life and Amelia was able to explore her own hearing loss on the page. She wanted to share her experiences and those of her D/deaf friends within this story that explored the slow work of battering down obstacles and making space for justice and equity (as well as gorgeous embroidery).
As Amelia explored the deaf experience with written word, she discovered she was able to embrace her own identity as a deaf/hard-of-hearing individual. She became more comfortable sharing her experience and wanted to write more disability-centered stories. She continues to write when she's not working, or spending time with her husband and five sons. She still loves visiting the library, but has collected enough books so that every room in her house has bookshelves. This house is perfectly situated at the edge of a wood, where adventure is always waiting and magic still seems possible.