I didn’t know any women motorcyclists when I was a kid. The same was true for many of the women I interviewed as I prepared to write this book. Women bikers were so rare back in the 1980s that “if you met another woman riding on the road you’d stop and have a party!” That's what Cheryl Stewart told me. She was one of the women who founded Sirens MC (motorcycle club) back in 1986, making it New York City’s oldest all-women’s motorcycle club.
I first heard about Sirens MC through my friend Rebecca, whose sister KT and sister-in-law Jen are both members. I kept thinking how cool it was that Rebecca's kids had these motorcycling aunts as role models. Plus, through KT and Jen they also got to meet other riders in the club. It's one of the most truly diverse groups I've ever encountered. The 40-plus members range in age, race, sexual orientation and gender expression. As one member put it, “You never know if a woman is a Siren until you see the patch on her back.”
I started to think about how lucky Rebecca's kids were to grow up around the women of Sirens MC. In addition to their diversity, this group also serves as a model of what it means to form community. The women of Sirens MC call each other sisters. The Sirens are their chosen family, and they look out for one another on the road and off. “No Siren left behind” is one of the club’s mottos, and that holds true whether it’s stopping to help a club member with a broken bike on the side of the road or visiting a fellow Siren when she’s sick or hurt in the hospital.
At the time when I started thinking I wanted to write about the women of Sirens MC, my younger daughter was in preschool. I was spending many, many hours reading picture books to her and was impressed by the way picture books could bring the world into our living room. I thought, maybe I can't give every kid the opportunity to meet members of Sirens MC for themselves, but I can still find a way to bring the ethos of this remarkable club to kids no matter where they live.
I approached KT with my idea, and she invited me to a Sirens MC meeting. The meeting started with a go-around, where one of the prompts for introductions was to tell what kind of motorcycle you rode. I definitely felt out of my element! But everyone was incredibly gracious and welcoming. And in the end, eleven club members agreed to sit down with me for interviews so I could hear more about their lives and their love of riding.
There are so many books that could potentially come out of those interviews--so many great stories! But picture books require a brevity of text. For that reason I created one main motorcycling character, Maggie. With her I tried to capture the spirit of what I learned about the women of Sirens MC. Maggie is strong and independent, while also deeply connected to her chosen community. She teaches Nicky that being different doesn't mean having to be alone, and that there's a place for everyone.