It’s difficult to write about myself, and not very interesting, but apparently every author website needs a bio, so…
I was born in Silicon Valley when it was called the Santa Clara Valley, or more poetically, the Valley of Heart’s Delight, because it was a lovely, bucolic place known for its orchards and sleepy small towns.
I had a boringly happy childhood in a middle class suburban family with my parents, younger brother, assorted dogs, parakeets and white mice. My mother instilled in me a love of reading, and I sort of branched out from there into writing, although it took me awhile to get serious about it.
We moved a lot…San Jose to Castro Valley, then to the Midwest…St. Louis and Chicago, then back to Los Angeles, then Atlanta, where my family remained and I continued on my peripatetic way to New Orleans and Houston, Denver, Atlanta again, Seattle, back to L.A. and finally to Santa Fe.
The first thing I remember writing when I was about seven years old was a story about a family whose Christmas tree went missing. That was followed by a few plays written with my best friend Lynn Davis and performed in her garage to a captive audience of younger neighborhood kids. The plays were mostly outer space/cowboy stories—don’t ask. In junior high it was gothic romance thrillers and high school was given over to bad poetry about the varsity basketball team.
My checkered college career encompassed numerous schools and involved changing my major a lot. When I finally graduated with a degree in journalism, I seemed doomed to drift from one job to another—journalist, substitute teacher, public relations for the phone company, public television, advertising, airline res agent, travel agent and baker, never quite getting it right.
Finally during a period of enforced unemployment that followed a serious surgery, I decided on a whim to take a creative non-fiction seminar at UC Irvine. It was like sitting down in an unfamiliar chair and finding it so comfortable you never want to get up.
When I was working on my first novel, Bread Alone, I was possessed. There weren’t enough hours in the day that I could spend writing. I was constantly beating myself up for not having started writing seriously before the age of fifty. I worried about the time I’d wasted in all those other jobs where I was bored and unhappy and not particularly competent. And then one day it just came to me that all the unimportant stuff wasn’t unimportant at all. That it was actually a necessary—one might even say crucial—stage that I had to pass through on my way to becoming a writer. It’s called life.