Jennifer Caloyeras didn’t set out to be a novelist. Having come from a family of writers, she actually avoided it. Instead, after entering Crossroads in seventh grade, Jennifer got involved in musical theater, chorus and dance, and toured with the 21st Street Singers.
Her previous school was the antithesis of Crossroads, with “uniforms, rote memorization, extreme competition, a lack of artistic expression,” she recalls. “At Crossroads, I felt as though I’d come home. I could breathe.”
After graduation, she worked as a camp counselor, then assistant director at a farm camp while earning a bachelor’s in English from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She then earned a master’s in English literature from California State University, Los Angeles, going on to teach fifth grade and, later, college- level English. She recorded two CDs of her own songs and performed in indie clubs.
But something kept nagging at her. “Crossroads made me feel anything is possible. It taught me the power of creativity.” So, after the birth of her first son in 2005, she decided to see who she was as a writer. While pursuing an MFA in creative writing through the University of British Columbia, she became intrigued with the young adult (YA) genre, pulled in by “an inherent immediacy and intensity to those years: first love, identity-searching, redefined authority, emotional seesawing.”
Her first YA novel, “Urban Falcon,” was published by Diversion Press in 2009. Her second, “Strays,” published by Ashland Creek Press in 2015, tells the story of a girl with anger management issues who gets sentenced to a summer rehabilitating aggressive dogs. The character of a compassionate teacher is an amalgam of several instructors that Jennifer had while at Crossroads.
Jennifer, who has published short stories and written a collection of short fiction for adults, credits Crossroads with another turning point: Her husband, Basil Caloyeras ’93, was a classmate. Their sons, Phoenix and Peter, now attend Crossroads as well. When Jennifer’s not volunteering on campus, she’s busy embracing her writing life.