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Growing up in the small town of Lucedale, Mississippi, I was a girl with big dreams. I wanted to be a cowgirl, a writer, and Nancy Drew. Life has surely thrown me more than a few twists, but dreams are hard to destroy. Today, I’m all three… sort of. Of course the only mysteries I solve are in my series setting of Zinnia, Mississippi.
I was a real tomboy as a kid, but along with riding my bicycle, building forts in the woods with my brothers, playing baseball and getting into mischief; I also spent a lot of time with my grandmother. She lived with us when I was a child, and she was a wonderful storyteller. Having emigrated from Sweden when she was six she had a whole host of stories that kept me riveted for hours and I often think that's where my love for storytelling began.
Before I started writing fiction I actually worked as a journalist for nearly a decade and the experience has been invaluable as a writer. It was a fabulous life for a young woman, and I had some terrific adventures – like the time I covered an armed robbery on horseback or when I had to climb a tree to cover a hostage situation in a graveyard. It’s a good thing I had all that experience being a tomboy.
A lot of people ask me how I started writing about the Mississippi Delta. My hometown, Lucedale, is way down in the Southeast corner of the state. That section is called the pine barrens, and it lives up to its name. Pine trees are a cash crop, and thousands of acres were once owned by the big paper companies. It’s a world very different from the Mississippi Delta.
My first visit to the Delta was as a photojournalist. I went to Parchman State Prison to do a newspaper story. Parchman was notorious at that time, and I can still remember the terrible desolation I felt when I looked out and saw mile after mile of heat and cotton. But the Delta also has fabulous wealth. And it has the blues. I knew then, at the age of twenty one, that I would one day write about that land of stark contrasts and strange beauty.
Alongside writing my own, I also teach fiction writing at the University of South Alabama in Mobile and am actively involved in animal rescue – I currently house twenty one critters, a menagerie of horses, dogs and cats.
If you'd like to know more about me or my work, please go to my website, or drop me a line on Facebook or Twitter.