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I was born and raised in Nice, France. Although I realise now that the French Riviera is one of the most beautiful places on earth, at the time I hated it. My best friend and I used to dream of moving to Paris someday, or London, or even Rome. We weren’t exactly sure how we’d survive once we got there, but that didn’t stop us from dreaming. Then I met my first boyfriend and the wanderlust vanished, at least for a while. Years later, as I was finishing my second year at the University of Nice, I met and married an American serviceman then moved to the U.S., all on a whirlwind of seven months. Louisiana, was a little further than I wanted to go, but I was young, in love, and adventurous. Far from being the fairy tale I had imagined, however, those first few weeks on American soil were a nightmare. I didn’t speak a word of English, I couldn’t cook and I’d never held a broom in my life. Clearly, something had to be done, and I had to be the one doing it.
Within a year, my whole situation had changed dramatic – I became fluent in English, had learned how to cook and I had the cleanest house on the block. I even signed up for a course in creative writing, as I felt like I needed something to do other than polish the silver and I thought a writing course sounded like fun. My years as a U.S. Air Force wife took me all over the place. Besides residing in Louisiana, California, Delaware, and New Jersey, I also lived in Germany, Morocco, and Spain. It was during a tour of duty in Spain that a friend of mine told me the base paper was looking for a reporter and that she thought I would be perfect for the job. At first I thought she was crazy. Sure I had taken a course in creative writing, but I knew absolutely nothing about journalism? Though by the time Gretchen had finished telling me all about the job, I wanted it so badly that I was more than willing to bluff my way through at interview!
In the editor’s office the following day, I lied shamelessly – inventing credentials I didn’t have, naming publications that didn’t exist and convincing myself I’d end up in purgatory for all my lies. To my surprise, the editor gave me a try-out assignment and a three-o’clock deadline the following afternoon. I had less than 24 hours to conduct an interview I had no idea how to conduct, write an article in a manner that was totally foreign to me and get it back to the editor by the time specified Fortunately, luck was on my side – when I turned in the assignment the next day, I was hired as the new feature writer for the Torrejon Raider. It wasn’t until my editor was reassigned to the U.S. that I learned I hadn’t fooled him one bit with my phony background. He knew I was lying, but he looked at me as being gutsy rather than deceitful and that’s the reason he decided to give me a try-out assignment. If I did a good job, he’d trust his instincts and hire me. If I botched it up, it would be sayonara, baby. His parting words to me at his going-away party were: ‘Hang in there, kiddo. I have a feeling you’ll go far.’
My second husband, Bob, is actually the one responsible for my writing career. Knowing when we met that I wanted to do something different with my life, he suggested I write a book. At first the idea sounded as ludicrous as Gretchen’s suggestion that I become a reporter – then I looked at how that turned out and thought, ‘Why not? What have I got to lose?’
Many novels later, I’m finally convinced that writing women’s fiction is my true calling. I often think of that editor, though, and how instrumental he was in my becoming a writer. If it hadn’t been for his faith in me and those last few words, I might never have had the nerve to take my husband’s suggestion seriously.