Photo by Eli Zwiebach-Cohen

M. L. Rio was born in Miami and raised in North Carolina by parents from California, and has never known how to answer the question, “Where are you from?” Her writing career began when she participated in Reading Rainbow’s Young Writers and Illustrators Contest and wrote her first real story–about a girl who was lucky enough to have a pet dragon and clever enough to hide it from her parents and everyone else who might have been interested in such a marvel. She suppressed the creative itch for a few years, and then picked up a pen to write her first novel at the much more judicious age of twelve. Mercifully she realized it was garbage, scrapped it and started writing something else. Half a dozen ‘drawer novels’ later, she is represented by Arielle Datz of Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency, Inc. Her debut novel, If We Were Villains, was published by Flatiron Books in 2017.

Around 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 she was the best actor in the company; in reality she was simply the smallest and therefore 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 fourteen, and since then has played a wide variety of his characters, from the hunchback Richard III to the fairy queen Titania. She holds an MA in Shakespeare studies from King’s College London and Shakespeare’s Globe, and is currently pursuing her PhD in early modern English literature at the University of Maryland. She lives in Washington, D. C., surrounded by books and records and often seen in the company of a black-and-tan mutt named Marlowe.