I live in Austin. I am a Texan, a tree-hugger, a bookworm, a dog person, a Trekkie, a history buff, a knitter, and a gardener. I like to learn things — that’s my favorite hobby — and I like to build things. Once built, I want to move on and build something different. Writing is easier on the fingers than woodworking and you don’t have be able to draw a straight line. And every book is a new world, even the next in a mystery series. New characters, new aspects of the setting. Historical fiction is ideal for us learning junkies.
I grew up in Houston. I am not one of those writers who began writing as soon as she learned that crayons were more than a colorful snack food. I don’t recall having any special interest in writing until college, and even then it wasn’t a goal I took seriously. That interest lay dormant, like buffalo grass in the winter. The desire to write suddenly greened up again in my late 30’s. It took a while to become established, but has grown to become my career. Now the fictional world is the day job and the sensible things are the hobbies.
I didn’t start writing at an early age, but I did learn to read when I was four. A few years later, my father started taking us kids to the library every other Saturday. Being a psychologist, he craftily took us to the ice cream parlor on the way home. I have been to the library every two or three weeks from that age to this, except for the ten years in which I had an office inside a university library. Libraries are my second home.
The wonderful librarian in the children’s room in the Houston Public Library taught me to use the card catalog. (Thank you, whoever you are!) Soon I had read all the books about dragons and was working my way through the collections of fairy tales. I read The Hobbit when I was ten and The Lord of the Rings when I was twelve and have read them again many times. So why don’t I write fantasy? That is a question I ask myself every time I get stuck in the middle of a mystery plot. All I can say is, I’m not ruling it out.
I have three degrees: a BA in the Classics (majoring in the Iliad); a MS in Computer Science (good for making money); and a PhD in Linguistics (the natural aptitude thing.) I’ve had three corresponding careers: waitressing, software engineering and managing a digital archive of language resources. I did some college-level teaching in and around graduate school. I spent a year in rural Mexico writing a grammar of an indigenous language called Zoque.
These were all lovely careers, but you can’t keep doing the same thing all your life. What about sixteenth-century law? Somebody’s got to study it. I’m too distractible for academia, too irregular for software development and too old for waitressing. What’s left but novel-writing?And since I have all these photographs and an obsessive need to tell stories, here’s an even taller tale. Believe what you want: I am a writer of crime fiction.