I have loved reading and writing ever since my older sister came home from first grade to teach me what she had learned that day. My first publications were in the Oakland Tribune in a weekly section for children called "Aunt Elsie's Page," and a newspaper I put out for my family which featured reviews of what I was reading and news about what was happening in the lives of my dolls.
I was lucky enough to have parents who encouraged me from the beginning, and who showed their support by giving up much of what they must have wanted for themselves so my sister and I could get the best possible education. As a result, by the time I graduated from The Bishop's School in 1967 and enrolled as an English major at the University of California at Davis, I had come to appreciate that good writing is extraordinarily difficult but well worth the effort. I couldn't believe I could get a degree by devouring novels and poetry in bed in my pajamas, and writing papers on ideas that burned in me as I read, but it turned out to be largely true. Graduate school at the University of Chicago (MA 1972) and again at Davis (Ph.D, 1982) followed.
Professionally, early in my career I was both an instructor and an administrator of academic support programs at San Diego State University and the University of California at San Diego. I came to San Diego City College in 1990, first as a dean and then as a full-time professor of English and Humanities. I also freelanced in the 1990s, writing 17 Young Adult titles for Lucent Books.
I am fortunate to have been able to combine my two professional loves—teaching and writing—throughout my life. Though sitting at my computer writing historical fiction is a good way to do both at the same time, I love interacting directly with people, and I frequently speak not just about writing or my books, but on the people, places, events, and eras I have become knowledgeable about as a result of my research as a novelist. Learning is the second most exciting thing in life. The first is sharing it with others.
A few years ago I began lecturing for Silversea Cruises as part of their enrichment program, traveling in South America, the Baltic, the Panama Canal, Southeast Asia, Central America, Canada, the Mediterranean, and Transatlantic. I retired in May 2014 and am looking forward to future voyages.
And just in case it sounds as if I work all the time, I am also an avid tennis player, novice golfer, intrepid traveler, voracious reader, and pretty awesome Mediterranean diet cook. Check out my photo gallery to see some of my adventures.