Full Name: Tanya Rezak
Location: Portland, Oregon
Biography: Seven year old Tanya sits in Bangkok, unable to speak Thai, alone in a house with her grandparents. Her mother takes pity on her, finds her a book at the British Council Library. Some of the few suitable books are the Narnia chronicles, and Lord of the Rings.
Tanya walks through the crowded markets and smells fish, noodles, curry. Tanya's grandmother shows her antiques from her days waiting upon the queen -- cloth of gold, silver bowls, tea sets from an ancient ancestor.
Tanya is in the house of Elrond, in the hall of fire. Ancient tales are told, strange and wonderful food is shared, Elves speak in a language that is tantalizingly familiar.
The world of Middle Earth and the world of Thailand inform each other -- strange adventures and strange quests mingle, a ring found in the JJ Bazaar is like the One Ring, troublesome in implication, beautiful in design, part of a life that is entirely foreign and that must somehow be comprehended.
In short, I grew up in Middle Earth. It's more home to me than any of the towns I'd lived in for a month or year at a stretch. The residents of Middle Earth are just as real as any other humans from that vague and trippy childhood. And shouldn't everyone love their own home?