A Brief Biography
I was born in New York City. As a girl I wanted to be a writer, an actress, or a cowboy. I didn’t want to be a cowgirl because my idea of being a cowgirl was based on Dale Evans and all she did was sit on her horse Buttermilk and wave.
I began writing seriously when I was eight with a series of stories in the school newspaper called Fatso and His Friends. Each month I delivered another chapter in the lives of Fatso (an elephant) and his friends, Newdl (interesting spelling; he was a mouse) and Happy the Tearless Cat. My first book was published when I was twenty-five. Inspired by E.B. White, Spencer and His Friends tells of a group of animals living on a farm in New England and is reminiscent of my first work. In high school I began reading the New Yorker and writing short stories in the style of James Thurber. Then came one-act plays inspired by Harold Pinter and Edward Albee. My first young adult novel, Crazy Eights, was influenced by Salinger. I remember thinking of the book as a female Catcher in the Rye. I have always been inspired by the writers I love, from Chekov to A.A. Milne.
My work takes many forms, children’s books, young adult novels, plays and screenplays. I recently co-edited my first non-fiction book Wider than the Sky: Essays and Meditations on the Healing Power of Emily Dickinson. My essay about the ways in which the poet helped me through a difficult time is featured in the book. Dickinson is with me always now. My historical novel, A Voice of Her Own: Becoming Emily Dickinson, tells of her growing up years and is written in the first person. I had to become her to write that. The same can be said of writing Young Joan, my historical novel based on the life of Joan of Arc.
I am also an actress and have been acting since I was seventeen. My favorite roles are (not surprisingly) Emily Dickinson in The Belle of Amherst and Joan of Arc in Joan of Lorraine.
In addition to writing and acting, my passions are animals and music. I belong to the Hudson Chorale, a classical chorus in Westchester and love to sing jazz. My dear yellow lab Riley passed away recently, but my opinionated cat Owen is my constant companion. He runs to meet me when I come home and follows me pretty much everywhere. When I’m working he likes to lie on the keyboard, purring loudly, carelessly rewriting precious phases before I know it. Then I have to move him to a nearby chair where after a moment’s indignation he sleeps at my side.
I have three grown sons. I live and work in South Salem, New York.
photo by Mark Kwiatek