The fifth of six children, Maria Hebert-Leiter couldn’t help but feel like her story was never just her own growing up. Now she enjoys exploring the connection between identity and family and how our families, biological or otherwise, make us who we are.

She fondly remembers falling in love with the March sisters in Little Women and staying up well beyond bed time when she couldn’t put down Rebecca. She even read by flashlight to avoid detection, which only worked sometimes since she wasn’t the first Hebert sister to keep the light on late into the night. When it came time to choose what to do with the rest of her life, of course she decided to keep reading. The more she read, the more she realized she had a story to tell too, one inspired and influenced by all the people she has been fortunate to know.

Originally from south Louisiana, she left the state for North Carolina where she continued to study literature. Life eventually took her even farther north to central Pennsylvania where she continues to read and write when she’s not busy shoveling snow with her husband during the winter, driving her two sons to their various activities year round, and caring for her small pet menagerie. She also leads college students in discussions of American literature and teaches them the process of writing. Her hope is to encourage others to share their stories—the many pieces of them—by exploring the power of all the words.