Author of novels and history. Writing curve: smallpox, Shakespeare, art. Currently at work on historical fiction about my favorite painting, Jan Van Eyck's Arnolfini Wedding.I've wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. Early on, my fallback career choices were ballerina and... show more
Author of novels and history. Writing curve: smallpox, Shakespeare, art. Currently at work on historical fiction about my favorite painting, Jan Van Eyck's Arnolfini Wedding.I've wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. Early on, my fallback career choices were ballerina and astronaut. Much later, I thought I'd become a Shakespeare professor. Through some strange twists and turns, I've circled back to writing.I was born in Washington, D.C., but I grew up in Arizona. I have a Ph.D. in English from Harvard, along with undergraduate degrees from Oxford and Stanford. I was first pulled into studying literature by the Arthurian legend, and later by Norse sagas, Tolkien, and Shakespeare; my father jokes that I majored in fairy tales. It was something of a surprise to find myself writing thrillers; now I'm turning to historical fiction. Before I began to write books full time, I taught literature and writing at Harvard. Later, I was the classical music critic for the Arizona Daily Star. I've also written a number of pieces for the Smithsonian Magazine. Here's what I think about writing: Storytelling should be an adventure, not just the stringing-together of other people's adventures. On the trail of stories, I have: rappelled from a six-story tower using an emergency hand-tied halter (while writing about the training of firefighters); tracked mountain lions on mule-back through the mountain range Geronimo used as home base and hideout; held Yo-Yo Ma's cello; ridden the roller-coaster ride of a professional cutting horse (herding cattle); and posed for David Hockney on a BBC set while stuffed into a medieval gown originally made for Star Trek, with a red-velvet turban improvised from a set of men's pants perched on my head. From the sublime to the ridiculous -- and all of it wondrousI live in Tucson, AZ, with my husband, son, one very ancient golden retriever, and three cats (who try to help me type out my manuscripts).