I was born in Peoria, Illinois, the youngest in a big family. When it comes to family, I got really lucky. My family has been a constant source of pride and support for my entire life. I know that's not the case for a lot of people, so I'm grateful. (And if you're having a hard time at home, remember: Things can improve significantly, family-wise, just as soon as you move out of the house. In fact, it's one of the best things about living in a college dorm. Seriously!).
Speaking of college, I went to college in Washington, DC, and then to graduate school in Columbia, Missouri. I also have a master’s degree in Creative Writing from Bennington College in Vermont. I always enjoyed being a student and still enjoy being a teacher. I continue to lead writing workshops at StoryStudio Chicago.
My husband Mike and I live in a 110-year old house on the North Side of Chicago. On our first date, in January of 2000, we showed up at the restaurant wearing the exact same outfit: jeans and a brown sweater over a blue-and-white checked shirt. Awkward! We got over it. But even now, before leaving the house, we always check to make sure we’re not wearing the same thing.
Love Drugged was my first book, but I wrote fiction for a long time before that novel was published. I first got a degree in creative writing in 1993. In case you don’t remember 1993 (or weren’t born yet), it was President Bill Clinton’s first year in office, the premieres of TV shows like Frasier and Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, the Gin Blossoms climbing the radio charts—and me, ready to share my fiction with the world.
Sheesh. Little did I know that my first book wouldn’t be published until 2010. When it comes to a career in the arts, it turns out that patience and luck are just as important as talent and hard work.
I wrote a lot of short stories back then, and still do. I love short stories. They’re like magic tricks. They may seem easy to write, but the opposite is true. In the best short stories, every single word matters. Many great stories can be found in literary journals published by colleges and universities. I sold my first story in 1996 to Ascent, which at that time was published by the University of Illinois. Over the years, I have published more stories in great journals like StoryQuarterly, New Orleans Review, Sou’wester, Southern Humanities Review and elsewhere. Each time I’ve published a story, it’s felt like another step forward in becoming a “real writer.”
My first novel, Love Drugged, was published in 2010. My second, The Art of Secrets, was published in 2014. I've been writing novels ever since.
The truth is, I always thought of myself as a “real writer”— but I pay my bills doing another job that I love: running a high school library in Chicago. I also supervise the school literary journal, the book club, and the Gay-Straight Alliance. (For info about finding a GSA where you live, please check out my links page.) The best part of my job is filling the shelves with new books that I know my students will read for fun. I also enjoy helping students to research, revise and edit their own writing—making sure it’s the best work possible.