Brown was born in February 1964 in rural Pennsylvania. She came the west coast, more specifically Santa Barbara, California, when she was sixteen with her family. They often visiting the Tahoe basin on family vacations and on her own adventures as she got older.
Brown describes her journey here as one with lots of zigs and zags. She lived and worked in the Bay
area for a while, as well as traveled the world, and lived in Yosemite for eight years before moving to South Lake Tahoe.
Writing for Sunset and Outside Magazine are only a few of Brown’s many accomplishments. She has also published many books, most of which are travel guides such as:101 Great Hikes and California Waterfalls. Brown currently has 13 books in print.
A: I was born in February 1964, fifty years ago, and I was actually born in Pensilvania. A real rural part of it.
Q: And how did you come to live in the Tahoe area?
A: Through a lot of zigs and zags I guess would be the way to put it, but my family moved to California when I was fifteen. I went to college early by doing an early admission in Los Angeles then I went to graduate school at Stanford. After I lived and worked in the bay area before traveling around the world and doing different things, but in the process northern California became my home point and I’d go to Yosemite and Tahoe quite a bit. I was always a bit of a mountain girl; I grew up in the mountains. I finally moved to Yosemite about 15 years ago then after my divorce I moved to Tahoe which was about seven years ago.
Q: What influence has travel had on your life and do you think it can be influential for young adults and teens? And how so?
A: Absolutely. When I was in college I didn’t do the semester abroad like most people do and how stupid. I think about it now and I can’t believe I missed that opportunity. Now that I’m a professor I’m always telling my students to take that opportunity because it is so much more affordable as a student than it is as an adult paying regular fares. But yes, absolutely, its eye opening, life changing, and makes you realize that the American way isn’t the only way to look at the world. I’m fifty now and still when I travel my perspective gets shifted. Everything in me is so wired to be American so it’s really good for me to put myself in other cultures. I can’t think of anything better for anybody.
Q: And how do you like to travel?
A: Well I always tell my students that when they go somewhere to go there with a plan. If you go with this idea like I’m going to go to Belize and I’m going to try…ever single kind of hot sauce that they make…or I’m going to go to Belize and I’m going to try and figure out what’s up with the Amish culture that moved here from the U.S. in the 60’s. If you just go with a plan, even if you don’t enact it, it still gives you a purpose for traveling and I think that is super important because you’ll end up learning something maybe not what you set out to learn but maybe something else. If anything you learn that the process is so much more important than what you considered the end goal to be. And I find if I just go to a place it’s just unfocused, which is fine sometimes. For me I like to go with a mission and that usually leads me to other things.
Q: Where did you see yourself as a young adult?
A: That’s a great question…I’m trying to remember. I think I always had aspirations to be a writer and the reason I say that is because I know that when I went to college I knew that I definitely wanted English to be part of my major. I did a double major in English and government. When I went to journalism school I was actually more interested in broadcast and I’m just in love with radio. I love to read, but I just love stories being told.There is something about listening to a story that just totally entrances me. SO I think I imagined I’d be working in radio. I knew I wanted to tell stories and I knew I wanted to tell stories about real people. There is nothing I could invent that could compete with real life. People just do crazy and amazing things.
Q: How did you get into teaching?
A: Honestly, the teaching just came as a result of that. I taught my first class twenty years ago and San Francisco State and they just came out of the blue and asked me because I was a published writer. They wanted someone to teach a class on how to freelance for magazines, and I said okay because that was something I know about. I went in and something just clicked for me. I don’t know what it was, but just being in front of the classroom and having student felt so natural and easy. It was great I didn’t expect to do that but it just worked and one thing led to another.