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Drea Damara

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Drea Damara was born and raised on a farm in North Central Illinois. She spent her youth working in the fields, taking care of the family's livestock, and going on adventures in the woods with her three sisters. With a family of seven (including Drea's parents and her invalid grandmother) in an old farmhouse with no air conditioning, one bathroom (and an outhouse), and one television, Drea spent much of her youth outdoors.

Her grandmother, whom she called Busia, had been paralyzed from a stroke years prior. Drea made it a point each day to perform some antic to make her laugh and brighten her day. One of her fondest memories to this day is of the times she would get in trouble from her parents - her Busia would knock on the adjoining wall to their bedrooms to cheer her up and let her know she still thought she was a good kid.

Drea grew up listening to her father play records from his collection: Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Johnny Horton, and Rock n' Roll of the 1950s-1960s. He had a love of poetry and introduced her to classic poetry. She began to write her own at the age of twelve and saw her first poem published in a magazine when she was sixteen.

Living on a farm, there was always work to do. Drea and her sisters fed cattle daily, mended fences, built fences, banded calves, cut, raked, and bailed hay, raised and butchered chickens and rabbits, tended ducks and geese, built greenhouses and sheds, and helped their parents run a produce business, selling fruits and vegetables to farm markets and stores across the Illinois Valley.

Drea's grandmother spoke Polish and gave her a love for foreign languages. When she enrolled in college she studied German, French, Spanish, and Russian, hoping to one day be a book translator, as she loved to read.

When she was in an English composition class in college, she wrote her final essay about the inspiring lesson of her Busia's outlook on life, in spite of her battles with cancer. Her professor kept her after the last day of class and told her that no matter what she did in life, she needed to continue writing - that she was born to be a writer. It was after that discussion, that Drea began to write fiction stories in her spare time.

After she graduated college, she enlisted in the US Army and insisted that whatever job they assigned her, she be allowed to learn a foreign language. "If I was going to be asked to fight someone from another country some day, I thought the least I could do was to learn their language. Wars are often and started and ended with words - we have to learn to speak to each other."

Drea was assigned to become an Arabic linguist in the US Army. After the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal, her Arabic class was called into an auditorium and asked for volunteers to switch from the linguist occupational specialty to the interrogator specialty. Out of several hundred students, only Drea and one other soldier raised their hands. She was then sent to interrogator school and assigned to a military intelligence battalion who deployed to Iraq. After her deployment, she requested to be reassigned to Africa, but the Army said they had no slots for military intelligence there. She completed her enlistment and took government contracting jobs in the Middle East for several years before returning home to Illinois. All the while, she developed stories in her head and on paper to entertain herself while she was away from home.

After returning home, Drea looked for work so that she could be close to her family. Her other grandmother passed away when she was in Iraq. Her favorite aunt passed away the month after she returned home and then her mother got cancer. She decided war could go on without her and looked for local work, but no one would hire her.

Genres: Fantasy
   A Winter's Romance (2015) (with others)

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