Amber J. Keyser is former ballerina and evolutionary biologist with an MS in zoology and a Ph.D. in genetics. As a research scientist, she studied evolution in western bluebirds, blue grosbeaks, marine copepods, and fruit flies and published extensively in the scientific literature.
Now she writes about science and adventure for young readers. Her books include An Algonquin Heart Song: Paddle My Own Canoe (2007), two graphic novels about science, The Basics of Cell Life with Max Axiom (2010) and Decoding Genes with Max Axiom (2010), and Anatomy of a Pandemic (2011). Amber’s articles have appeared in Odyssey Magazine, Mothering Magazine online, CommonSenseMedia.org, and Globio.org.
Amber is the PAL Member Liaison for the Oregon chapter of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators as well as a frequent public speaker on transmedia storytelling, critique and the writing process, and graphic novels.
LONG, RAMBLING VERSION…
I have been, at various times, a ballet dancer, a model, an art restoration apprentice, a cake cutter, a newspaper delivery girl, a nanny, and a biologist. Currently, I’m a freelance writer and live in Portland, Oregon, with my husband, two kids, and a flock of charismatic chickens.
I grew up reading and re-reading The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. I even managed to convince my 8th grade English teacher, Mrs. Wolf, that I had a two-track mind, which enabled me to read and listen at the same time. I hung with an “artsy” crowd in high school and never considered being a scientist even though I loved camping, hiking, canoeing and being in the woods.
In 1994, I found myself in Costa Rica snorkeling for tagged conches with a field biologist named Luis. Waves slopped over my head as I treaded water, held a conch, and got a lecture in Spanish about mollusk reproduction. That sealed the deal. I wanted a job like that!
I spent seven years studying ecology and evolution in wild bird populations (Blue Grosbeaks and Western Bluebirds) and marine copepods (Tigriopus). Click on the Science tab to learn more.
Never one to take a straight path when there is a twisty one heading into the forest, I am somewhat surprised, but completely delighted, to be writing for tweens and teens.
If you’re looking for me, you’re most likely to find me in a canoe, in a tent, in the garden, or clicking away on my laptop. I believe in the power of telling stories to launch lives of adventure and help us be our best selves.
My favorite words: “Tell me a story!”