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I realize that I am one of those rare people in the world who gets to live a life full of passion, suspense, angst, fulfillment, humor, and mystery. I am a writer. Everyday when I sit down to my computer, I enter into world of my own making. I am in the head of a panoply of characters ranging from a nineteen year-old Austrian debutante (The Last Waltz) to a raging psychopath (The Arthurian Omen) and four women at once in The Only Way to Paradise.
How did this come about? I think I was wired to be a writer when I was born. Even though my formal career was in finance, writing was all I really wanted to do. There were a lot of things about my surroundings that I couldn’t control during my growing up years, so I retreated to whatever alternate existence I was creating. The habit stuck, and now my family finds themselves living in my current reality during dinnertime as I overflow with enthusiasm about Wales or Italy.
I studied writing in an advanced workshop when I was at Stanford, but was discouraged because everyone but me wanted to be J.D. Salinger. I hadn’t yet found my writing voice. But with my study abroad in Austria, I finally found the story I wanted to tell–the decline of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its collapse into fascism. (I never for a moment thought that this might be a bit ambitious.) I eventually began this project while commuting to and from my job in Los Angeles as an International Banker. I had an outline. My studies abroad had given me the historical background. Using that, I created characters as prototypes of the ideas that existed in Austria in 1913. Then, while teaching economics and waiting for my first child to be born, I read all of Churchill’s books on World War One, and everything I could get my hands on that would give me the zeitgeist (literally “time spirit”) of the age.
By the time my three children were born, I had a draft, but I knew it wasn’t going anywhere. It was too superficial. I didn’t understand the European mind. I couldn’t convey the degree of suffering they had endured, nor the trauma the Austrians experienced at the collapse of their empire.
I turned to writing a more modern story that was semi-autobiographical at that point. I was living in the Ozarks, full of conflicted feelings that I worked out over the course of five years in the novel that has now become Pieces of Paris. However, I knew also that that project had not yet lived up to its potential. Discouraged, I turned to writing what I read–light mysteries. For color I imparted to my heroines another passion of mine–genealogy. Finally, I felt significantly secure to submit something and I was published.
However, for fifteen years, I had been the victim of bi-polar disorder (a common ailment among writers), and after publishing three books, I became too ill to write. During that ten year struggle to survive, I learned enough about overcoming pain, and about life and love to be able to complete my Austrian project. That became The Last Waltz. After two more mysteries, I was able to complete Pieces of Paris.
I am, at this writing, 65 years old, and I have ventured into the world of Indie publishing. First, I turned my eyes toward Italy. The Only Way to Paradise is the result of intense immersion in the Florentine and Tuscan culture, and most of it was written there. Of course, the art and landscape are spectacular, but what makes my heart sing are the people. I think that they are born with a genetic tendency to agape (unconditional love). I have experienced so many kind and loving experiences at their hands, most of which are chronicled fictitiously in my book. I plan at least two more in the same setting–a mystery and a time travel.
My latest endeavors are Regency romances, that are pure fun! The Duke’s Undoing, The Taming of Lady Kate, and Miss Braithwaite’s secret are best read with something chocolate (my husband suggests bon bons). They are a romp through the Jane Austen era. I am currently 70 pp. into the fourth Regency which as yet lacks a title.
I do genre-hop a lot, but I firmly believe that any endeavor that enables us to further understand ourselves, our world, and our loved ones is never wasted. I have chronicled much of what I have learned about PTSD from “Pieces” and “Paradise” on my new website http://PTSDweb.com. I welcome comments.
A few of my favorite things:
Gelato (chocolate, pistachio, staticcella (sp?)
Television: Bones (weird, huh. I especially loved the one with the jumping maggots. I laughed so hard!)
Blue Bloods (Who would have thought Tom Selleck’s dimples would turn into huge grooves in his face?)
White Collar (I love Mazzie (sp?))
Covert Affairs (Isn’t Annie just too All-American? I love that about her!)
NCIS (love Ziva, Gibbs, and of course, Abby)
The Mentalist (most of the cast are poor actors, but Simon Baker carries them on his shoulders)
Person of Interest
Movie: North and South (BBC version starring the fabulous Richard Armitage–would love to put him in a movie)
Colors: Tuscan all the way: silvery green, cobalt blue, terra cotta, apricot, biscuit-gold.
Place: Tuscany, of course!
Books: Anna Karenina, The Heart of the Matter (Emily Giffin), Love the One You’re With (Giffin), Love Walked In (Marisa de los Santos), Jane Eyre, The Winds of War, War and Remembrance (Herman Wouk) and so many more . . .
Music: Italian Opera primarily male tenors, except for the “Un Bel Di” from Madame Butterfly which is my favorite aria. Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, Dvorak–9th symphony, Slavonic Dances, and Violin Concerto, Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, Shastakovich 5th symphony, Beethoven-everything, especially Ninth symphony. Josh Groban, Judy Collins, Michael Buble, Paul Simon, Enya, Loreena McKinnett. LOVE sound track from No Reservations.
All-time favorite musical: Les Miserables
Place to buy clothes: On-line at Soft Surroundings, Coldwater Creek, and Chicos.
Pastimes: Playing with my grandchildren and traveling
Actor: Richard Armitage
Actress: Gwenyth Paltrow
Car: Miata convertible (this changes weekly)
View: The hills and valleys of Tuscany as seen from San Gimigniano.