When Audrey Couloumbis was two, her mother remarried and her father left Illinois to work as an electrician for traveling shows such as Holiday on Ice, Dancing Water, and the Kalanag magicians. By the time he settled in New York City when Couloumbis was 14, she had already spent years flying alone to see him in such varied locations as Paris, Brazil, Hawaii, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Switzerland, Detroit, and Houston. Often left to fend for herself in hotel rooms while her father worked, Couloumbis would wander the halls, making friends with the other hotel guests. At home in Illinois, she would do the same, exploring the countryside on her bicycle.
This openness to meeting strangers has served her well in her writing, which she describes as “an act of deep listening” to her characters: “To be there when it feels like the characters start to tell the story.” When the characters are quiet, Couloumbis involves herself in other kinds of writing, or in housework and gardening, until she feels they are ready. She also enjoys driving down different roads in her neighborhood for the first time, building stone walls for her gardens, and rearranging the furniture of the house she shares with her patient husband.