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While my family (I’m one of thirteen) packed for our move to Western Australia, Moon River came over the radio. Without exaggeration, I became transfixed—as “I floated around the bend,” I realized words could evoke strong emotions and create other worlds.

girl looking up at moon

By the song’s end, I vowed to become a writer. But how? At the young age of 10, I didn’t understand that life would hold the “lessons” that would provide the skills and materials for my stories. 

My parents, John and Nellie Kathleen, gave me my first lessons. 

My Australian mother was a prolific reader; her style of speech affected my speaking and writing voice. My father introduced me to the world’s diverse wonders by sailing our family to Western Australia and, years later, around the other hemisphere to Florida. The tours of 38 countries, plus our homes on the edge of the Australian Outback and the Indian Ocean offered invaluable lessons for me as a fledgling writer.

Days after my college graduation, Mum and Dad urged me to join my family’s relocation to Ireland. There, more lessons came from the intense beauty of the Irish clouds and fields, and the island’s poetic language. My first published works were short stories set in Carrigaholt, County Clare, a fishing village on the River Shannon, our residence before my parents moved on to Dublin and Killarney. 

Back in America, I underwent formal lessons based on the fiction techniques of the eminent instructor, Dwight Swain. After the publication of several historical fiction novels, I earned a Master of Fine Arts to study the classics including Shakespeare’s plays. Graduate school also honed the research skills that all writers need. I then taught composition, fiction, and literature courses at colleges, and worked as a newspaper columnist until my entire focus fell on novel writing. 

Although I’ve enjoyed researching and writing fiction and non-fiction books with history themes, I’m drawn to my favorite genre: mystery.