A child with an overly-active imagination, I was grounded for half my young life. My various stunts involved, but were not limited to, cliffs, tall trees, construction sites, and front-lawn theatricals. I had piano and ballet lessons, but otherwise, life was relatively unscheduled; my friends and I terrorized the neighborhood until our parents shouted for us to come home for dinner.
Nights were made for reading, and read I did, sometimes until dawn, turning out the light when my parents came upstairs to bed, flicking it back on when I heard my dad’s thunderous snores. I just had to finish A Wrinkle in Time, The Secret Garden, Jessamy, The Hobbit, Julie of the Wolves, Watership Down, All Creatures Great and Small, or the latest novel by Joan Aiken or Judy Blume, books that enthralled and inspired me to write poems, stories, and school newspaper articles myself.
I’m still a voracious reader. Over the years, favorites have included the work of Edna O’Brien, William Trevor, Charles Dickens, W. Somerset Maugham, Graham Greene, E.M. Forster, Henry James, Jane Austen, and the Bronte sisters.
I majored in English at the University of Washington. When I graduated, reality set in: I needed a job. So I detoured into editorial positions at newspapers and magazines, editing, writing reviews and feature articles.
After I married and started a family, I freelanced for national and local periodicals and worked on a guidebook or two, but talking on the phone became increasingly difficult in a household with three small children. (I seriously considered having a sound-proof phone booth installed at one point!) Nor was I as creatively fulfilled as I would have liked. Despite intense sleep deprivation, I decided to pursue my dream of writing fiction.
In time, I published short stories and won fellowships. Then, finally, in 2004, a miracle happened: my first novel, Snow in July, was published by Soho Press; The Lace Makers of Glenmara (Harper), in 2009, and now The Cottage at Glass Beach (Harper). I’m currently at work on a fourth book.
Writing, for me, has been and will be a life-long apprenticeship. No scrap of paper is safe — cocktail napkins, dry cleaning receipts, sports release forms (the latter caused my daughter to wail, “Mom, don’t write dialogue on that; I need it for soccer!”) It’s a way to make sense of the world, to connect with what makes us most human. My goal is a deceptively simple one: to write a good story, one that will keep you turning the pages long into the night, laughing, crying, and wondering what happens next.