Penny Reid: Smar Humor Creates Romance & Mystery Gold!

In all the years I have been interviewing, I don’t think I have ever met an author who is more like her characters than Penny Reid. She is warm, friendly, but with a bit of quirkiness that is absolutely delightful. Her sense of humor is quick and her ability to see the absurd and laugh at it keeps everyone around her laughing along with her. She is also incredibly intelligent and immediately draws conclusions that are extremely enlightening and often not even noticed beforehand. Yet, she is surprisingly self-debasing and humble, even with her wild popularity. To say I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation is an understatement!  Read on and you’ll see exactly what endears her to so many, including myself!

InD: Where were you born and what was your childhood like?
I was born in Los Angeles, California, and I am the youngest of four kids. We moved to Florida when I was very young, following my dad's job. Mom was a homemaker, my dad was a vice president for a large defense contractor. I grew up near the Orlando area and all of my siblings worked for Disney, at one point.
InD: What was that like growing up around Disney World?
It was interesting! I grew up in the 1990s and my siblings had, and still have, the park-hopper passes to get in. They're good in every park for a day, no expiration date. I think I still have a ton of them, because they would get them every quarter. I think those tickets must be worth a billion dollars by now.
Not sure about now, but back then, if you worked there, you could sign in your friends and family members, so I knew every part of Disney World, Epcot Center, and the Magic Kingdom really well. I knew all the secret places to go. I have a memory of being 12, and on Saturday’s, my brother would sign me in when he started his shift and I would go by myself or bring a couple of friends and just hang out all day.
Oddly, I never took my kids there until we actually moved away from Florida. They were like, “We’ve never been to Disney World”, and I was like, “You really want to go there? Really?”
InD: Most people would think that was a dream childhood.
Yeah, I didn’t like rollercoasters, though, so I did a lot of people watching when I was there. I would sit in the park and study all the families. My brother was supposed to watch me, but he would give me $10 and I knew exactly how to maximize it. I had enough water because I knew where all the water fountains were.
There is a movie theater on Main Street that’s kind of hidden, where they showed the original Mickey Mouse cartoons. When it would get too hot in the middle of the day, I would get some ice cream from a shop nearby and sit and watch movies. I guess it is kind of a magical way to spend childhood.
InD: Your childhood was not like most people's childhood.
No, it wasn't. When my parents were busy doing other things, they'd say to my brother, “Just take her to the park” and I would hang out there until the end of his shift.
InD: I think that is amazing! But would you leave your kids at Disney World alone all day?
No, I’m pretty sure you would get arrested now. It’s not even an option. I don't know if I would ever be in a situation where I would consider leaving my 12-year-old all day in the park. I think I was very privileged in that way.
InD: I guess, as a child, you knew the park well enough, you knew where you were going. It would have been a much different experience for you than most.
Yes, it was like being in your own small town. I think my generation grew up in that awkward space between analog and digital, that span of time where you grew up without computers, but by the time you got to college, it was expected. When I grew up, my parents would not let us play video games, so I would go to anybody's house that had a system because I loved playing.
One of the happiest days in my life (aside from the birth of my children, obviously) is when I found out Squaresoft was making Final Fantasy VII with PlayStation 5 graphics. I was just beside myself. There was a point in my 20s where I was playing way too many games and had to quit. I'm still not allowed to play unless I am playing with one of the kids, because that would be all I do.
But, I think playing video games and being in that virtual environment, logic and the basic RPG helped me interact with computers as they developed, and to think of them as something more natural. The kids who interacted with video games, at that time, tended not to have such a hard time acclimating to computers in college.

Read the entire fun and informative interview in the July/August 2022 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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