When I was seven, I wrote my first “book”––The Silly Pumpkin––with accompanying illustrations. Poor Silly Pumpkin: whenever crisis struck, he cried. The sensitive soul that penned that tale now dumps her characters into all kinds of disaster to test their mettle. I make my people choose more than a good cry.
From then on, if I wasn’t scribbling a new story, I was gobbling up series like Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie, with doses of Judy Blume and Ellen Conford mixed in. I loved old-school girls and modern girls-ones who brought the brains, wit, and a good dose of weird.
Growing up in Northern California and North Carolina with parents who had a penchant for world travel, I found I couldn’t stay complacent in one social milieu or with the same expectations of people and places. Moving across state lines and time zones opened my heart to stories from other cultures and centuries. Attending an international school in Belgium taught me the world was a big place, and when I lived in France and traveled Europe, I came home wishing I were un petit peu française. In the last few decades, I’ve roamed places like Sri Lanka, Singapore, Ghana, Bali, and Delhi.
Thanks to great teachers, I made the decision to become one myself. Catholic school taught me the word vocation, and I never doubted that this was a spiritual call. After five years at Stanford and a BA and an MA, I started teaching high school in Silicon Valley. I met students who could expect a Porsche for their 16th birthday and immigrants with harrowing survival stories. I continued my teaching career in North Carolina with another diverse pool of students who taught me much. One of my most memorable experiences was directing a group of gifted actors in A Raisin in the Sun. Today I design online lessons for students and train teachers.
The whole time, I wrote fiction, chipping away at what I’ll call The Novel and various short stories. Most of my energy stayed with teaching and writing books for teachers: The Compassionate Classroom: Lessons That Nurture Wisdom and Empathy (co-authored with Jane Dalton); Teaching Romeo and Juliet: A Differentiated Approach (co-authored with Delia DeCourcy and Robin Follet), and Teaching Julius Caesar: A Differentiated Approach.
Then in 2003, another call: I was accepted to the North Carolina Writers’ Network Elizabeth Daniels Squire Residency, taught by the legendary Doris Betts. Author of nine novels and three story collections, she treated my work with tremendous respect. Thanks to her wise and incisive feedback, I decided to make a real commitment to my lifelong dream of author.
Today you can read my first set of short stories, The Flat and Weightless Tang-Filled Future and my debut novel, How Wendy Redbird Dancing Survived the Dark Ages of Nought. I’m working hard at a second novel in the Girls Outside series—tentatively titled How Minerva Mae Christopoulos Started the Chastity Club. I’m a member of True North Writers & Publishers, a co-operative of self-published authors who love many genres—literary, contemporary, thriller, steampunk, and YA—and pursue authentic writing for the New South.
I’m married to Greg Hawks, a country and bluegrass musician. He won my heart with a guitar and an abiding, artistic faith. We live with my stepson Henry and an orange tabby named Sonny in the woods of Chapel Hill. The place hums with the soundtrack of clawhammer banjo and the chatter of computer keys.