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People often ask if my books, particularly the Ministry is Murder series, are autobiographical. Think how much easier and shorter this bio would be if they were, and how much more interesting? I could be one of three sisters running an Irish-American bar, recently divorced from a man who came into our marriage with dark secrets and newly married to a minister in a town with a surprisingly high murder rate. For fun, I could dive for perfect Australian pearls, make spectacular quilts, ride to the hounds, and outwit hurricanes while stirring gumbo with the hand not holding a needle and thread.
In reality very little of that sounds familiar. I have a charming older brother but no sisters. My mother told me stories of her Irish father who wielded his beautiful tenor in many a bar in the Bronx, but never, to my knowledge, managed one. I've been happily married for many years, and if my husband has dark secrets, I have yet to discover them. He is a minister, but I have never found a dead body on our porch or been asked to solve a murder. For this I'm particularly grateful.
And hobbies? I'll confess to the quilts and the gumbo, although in all the years I lived on Florida's Gulf Coast or a stone's throw from Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans, I never experienced a hurricane.
I currently live in Virginia, but I was born in Maryland – a state I've never written about – and raised in Florida – a state I'm finally getting around to. My husband and I met at Florida State and went on to marry and become VISTA volunteers in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, an experience that changed us forever. Anxious for a case of real culture shock, we moved to Berkeley, California, where Michael attended seminary and I fell through the looking glass.
Between planting trees at People's Park and buying groceries in backyard food cooperatives, we started our family, which eventually grew to include three sons and a daughter who came all the way from India to help me cure the testosterone poisoning in our household. All the children are grown now, and in the end, cleaned up nicely. They are easily my finest creative endeavour, and there is, I'm thrilled to say, a granddaughter, too, with hopefully more to come.
In Roanoke, Virginia, my husband's first church, I pursued a master's degree in family development at Virginia Tech, and a career as a therapist in a mental health centre. By the time we were settled in New Orleans, I knew I needed a different profession, one I could pursue during the hours I was not making cupcakes or checking homework. I began writing just to please myself, realized I would be even more pleased if other people read me, and set out to make that happen. Sixty plus novels later, I think I've succeeded. It's a blessing and a curse to be interested in everything and want to try it all. I've written series romances, romantic suspense, futuristic fantasy, paranormal, mysteries, and single title women's fiction. I've penned light books, dramatic books, and books I hope to never see in English again. My works have been translated into a multitude of languages and formats. The money, the bestseller lists and the awards have been lovely, but the biggest compensation is the process.
Maybe the books aren't autobiographical, at least not exactly. But they are, in the end, my very own fantasies. Committing them to paper is simply the greatest job in the world.