We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Dawn Menge and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dr. Dawn, what do you want people to remember about you?
My Queen Vernita’s visitors educational series is a legacy to my family. I want my young readers to gain a thirst for adventure, knowledge, family, friendships and preserving nature. I want them to understand how huge the world is and that the only real limits they have are the ones they create on their own. I want them to remember me for my contributions to teaching and my special needs students. We are all here together in this world and we need each other.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My Queen Vernita’s educational adventure series is created with the love of family, friends and adventure. I’m really proud of how my series has expanded and reached readers all over the world. They are being read in libraries and schools in Africa, Paraguay, the UK, Canada, Jamaica and the USA. I have interviewed and written articles for the media in India, Australia, UK, Ireland, Dubai, New Zealand and the USA. I hope to have helped others learn to build resilience through hard times, To remember what their loves and passions are and to build on them, keep family strong and of course never lose their sense of adventure. It has not been an easy journey, but if it were, what would I have to write about? I have swam with sharks, sea turtles, night swam with manta rays, seals, held baby alligators and sea horses. I hiked down to the bottom of a lava tube and swam with five generations. Camped, made S”mores, flew kites and made sandcastles.
It’s also been filled with experiences that I did not enjoy but I turned those negative experiences into positive ones to help teach others to build coping skills to conquer their hardships.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I grew up in a small mountain community in Southern California. It was so small that we were in the third graduating class of our newly built junior/senior high. We just celebrated our forty year high school reunion. It was open to any one who lived in Wrightwood or attended the high school. There were people here from Hawaii, Arkansas, Idaho, New Hampshire, and New Zealand. It was a weekend filled with laughter, dancing, hiking , eating and tears. Reconciling childhood hurts and bonding fifty year relationships. In the winter time we would go to the local ski lift and spend the day skiing or snowboarding. Hanging in the lodge and drinking hot chocolate. We could try our hand or rather feet at snowshoeing along the ridge of the mountains. We would eat dinner at our fanciest restaurant and sit by the fireplace drinking a glass of wine to end our night.
In the Spring and summer we would go camping, hike in the mountains , pick up pinecones and sit by the campfire roasting marshmallows to make S’mores.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have so many people in my life that have helped me grow, flourish, expand, love, and build my amazing legacy from. My family who have always been the focus of my life. My grandmother, mother, children and grandchildren who have created a loving family that experiences life’s adventures. My co-workers who are my forever friends and have supported me spiritually, financially and have been my sounding boards. King Teddy Bear who supported me through the turbulence. He is my hero. I have many organizations who have encouraged, provided support systems, and events to attend from the SCBWI, USBBY, and Story Monster Magazine (Linda and Cristy).