Born and raised just outside of New York City, Margaret Dardess has lived and travelled across several continents, landing at last in Chapel Hill, North Carolina where she should have been all along. She is the daughter of an artist and a poet, who were determined to steer their only daughter away from a life in the arts. For many years they succeeded.
After graduating from Connecticut College, Margaret returned to New York to study history at Columbia University, and after a brief teaching career, went on to tackle the law. When she finally stopped going to school, she set off on a journey, masquerading as an international trade lawyer, a corporate executive and a university administrator until at last she cast her parents’ warnings to the wind and began to write.
Most recently, I have written Kick the Wind, a middle-grade novel inspired by a little book that my grandmother wrote for me as a child. Stuck at home, one icy day I came across my grandmother’s story about her own childhood as a deaf girl in Iowa As I turned the pages, my grandmother’s voice carried me back to the nineteenth century and her home in Iowa at a time when the generosity, kindness and the love of family and friends made a difficult life bearable for many.
After the ice melted and I could leave my home, my desire to learn more led me to study people, customs and ideas from the years following the American Civil War, and I was excited to discover the true story of an African American girl named Susan Clark whose father, Alexander Clark sued the Muscatine Iowa school board in 1868 and won the right for his daughter, Susan to attend the all-white grammar school, over eighty years before Brown v. The Board of Education. Fictionalized versions of the stories of Susan and of my grandmother come together in Kick the Wind.
Kick the Wind has elements of a suspenseful thriller that I learned writing my first book, Brutal Silence, which I published in 2017 in connection with my advocacy work combatting human trafficking.