I have a strange last name. It’s Catalan, from between France and Spain. If you go to the Pyrenees, or to Barcelona, you might hear it, or meet someone with that name. “Pla” is pronounced like “Blah,” but with a ‘P.’ It totally seems like it should have more letters in it. But, nope, it doesn’t. Just: PLA.
My husband is French, from Paris, and when I first met him and started to fall in love (almost immediately), I thought he would say that his last name was something extremely long and flowy, something romantic and French-sounding, like “de la Beaujoulais,” or “de la Rochefecault.” I was more than slightly disappointed when he just said: “Pla!” But I married him anyways. I am not sorry I did.
I’ve been a writer since I was about nine. That was when my teacher, Mrs. McDonald, saw some small glimmer and encouraged me. (Teachers! Right?) Most of my early stories were about animals. I’ve always had dogs. Big dogs!
Here’s me with my dog, Lucky, when I was a kid:
And here’s our golden retriever, Casey, in a professional glamor shot:
And here is Leo, a giant golden-doodle. He never leaves my side.
I know what it feels like to be neurodiverse, a little different, a little off, and very unsure, in a world that can be straight and narrow-thinking about what it calls ‘normal.’ I know what it feels like to choose not to speak. Here’s a photo of me from the days when I was called “too sensitive.” When I was very silent. And very fearful and bewildered by things. I mainly liked to spend time alone, and I loved the outdoors.
I felt a lot of self-doubt and fear as a child. I think all of my writing so far is about learning to understand, accept, befriend, and move past Fear. About learning to feel more at ease in the world. Learning that it can get better, get easier. I hope my books will make you laugh, and also, feel little heart-pangs of recognition about everything we have in common, being human and all.
The Someday Birds is my debut novel. It’s about a 12-year-old boy named Charlie. He sees the world a little differently, in his own, unique, wonderful, autistic, sensitive way. So he takes you on a bit of an unexpected cross-country journey — and faces his own fears. It’s also about things such as war, chicken nuggets, OCD, rescue dogs, autism, un-extincting, and a quest for a mysterious bird guru who lives in a sanctuary marsh.
John Lockdown Is in the Building, my second novel, will be published by HarperCollins in 2018. It’s about Stanley Fortinbras, a 12-year-old comics fanatic who’s dreamed up a fantasy superhero named “John Lockdown” who he imagines will ‘save’ him from stuff like over-the-top-scary school danger drills. Stanley’s afraid of everything — but despite his fears, he dares to enter a giant comics-trivia treasure hunt. Much trouble, turmoil, and tumult ensue.
Benny’s Blue Burrito is the working title of a picture book, which will be published by Lee & Low. It’s about two little brothers, a grumpy day, and a fuzzy blue blanket.
Sally J. Pla lives in Southern California. She is represented by Taylor Martindale Kean at Full Circle Literary Agency.
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