Photo by Eli Zwiebach-Cohen

M. L. Rio was born in Miami and raised in North Carolina by parents from California, and has never been able to satisfactorily answer the question, “Where are you from?” She spent most of her childhood in Middle Earth or Neverland or Wonderland, attended Hogwarts for a number of years, and eventually graduated from the real-life University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with degrees in English and dramatic art and a minor in creative writing. Storytelling has always been her specialty.

Her writing career began when she participated in Reading Rainbow’s Young Writers and Illustrators Contest in the first grade and wrote her first real story–about a girl who was lucky enough to have a pet dragon and somehow clever enough to hide it from her parents and all of the governmental authorities which might, conceivably, have been interested in such a biological marvel. She suppressed the creative itch for another four years, and then picked up a pen to write her first novel at the much more judicious age of twelve. She finished it at fourteen, mercifully realized it was garbage, and immediately started writing something else. (One decade and half a dozen ‘Drawer Novels’ later, she’s thrilled to say that she is represented by Arielle Datz of Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency, Inc. and is looking forward to the publication of her de facto first novel by Flatiron Books.)

At about the same time she started to explore Life as Author, she also started to explore Life as Actor. She made her stage debut in the title role of Rumplestiltskin. (At the time she was convinced that she was the best actor in the company; in reality she was simply the smallest and therefore likely the most convincing as a dwarf.) Not long after she discovered the sublime delights of Shakespeare, and soon she was suffering from a case of full-blown Bardolatry. She made her first Shakespearean stage appearance at age fourteen, and since then has played a wide variety of his characters, from the infamous hunchback Richard III to the fairy queen Titania. She holds a master’s degree in Shakespeare Studies from King’s College London and Shakespeare’s Globe, and will be starting her PhD in early modern English literature at the University of Maryland in the Fall. Until then she is somewhere in the United States, enjoying the freedom that comes with having no permanent address.