I spent my first six years in South Bend, Indiana in a house with a tornado cellar that gave me a love of damp, musty, mysterious places. To this day, I breathe in a cool cellar like incense.
Transplanted at six, Colorado seemed dry and desolate, the towering mountains a view that could not replace green grass and lightning bugs. But I learned to watch for barrel cactus in the straw-filled fields in which my brother and I played cowboys and Indians. (I always played the Indian because the bow really shot the arrows and all he had were caps.)
We tramped the pasture land of cattle herds, waded into the holding ponds teeming with tadpoles, and toted them home in coffee cans to hatch into hundreds of speckled, penny frogs. At night, with the neighbor kids, I played kick the can on the gravel roads and acreage around our far flung houses.
Between classical violin lessons, I rode my symphony instructor’s purebred Arabians up and down the scrub oak covered slopes of Cheyenne Mountain. My sister, brother and I played Mozart at church on Christmas, and I subsequently taught myself piano, recorder, tambourine and guitar.
From a very young age my passions were reading, drawing, and writing stories. Ours was a cultured family, my dad a professor of philosophy and Dean of Arts and Letters, my mother an oil painter and antique refinisher. That sophistication I absorbed, but I also had a wild streak that called me outside to dissect grasshoppers and catch rock lizards and salamanders.
From the time my dad taught me to read at sit-on-the-floor school when I was four—launching me past kindergarten into 1st grade—I have loved learning and expressing what I know through art, music, and especially writing. Education came easily, and I grew accustomed to having my work read and displayed. But breaking out of the family mold, I left college to marry my husband Jim (celebrating our 29th this year.) Since then, life and all kinds of research have provided the grist for my stories. We have three awesome adult kids, and one incredible teenager. (You might think I’m biased, but ask anyone who knows them.)
While home schooling my four kids, I wrote my first novel. I pitched it for publication, and it became the first of a five book historical series. Since then, I have written three more historical novels and nine contemporaries. The Still of Night was nominated for the Colorado Book Award. The Tender Vine was a Christy Award finalist and Secrets won a Christy in 2005.
People often ask why I started writing, and I say to get the stories out of my head. Some say they’d like to write a book, but I say if you’re not wracked with labor pains, there are easier ways to express yourself. Being a writer is a solitary, eccentric, and often compulsive path. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.