I like to say I’m 100% Western Pennsylvania girl. Born in Erie, I have a deep love for the Great Lakes region (the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth). I still visit Presque Isle, the peninsula of 11 beaches that stretches into Lake Erie, whenever I’m in town. After the first snowfall, I love to drive on the peninsula while it looks like a magical winter wonderland! In Erie, I learned to love and respect the environment, from the beautiful lake, beaches and wildlife that need to be preserved, to the tough, stoic people who weather fierce, lake effect snows in winter each year.
My grandmother’s house was my alternate home. She lived in McDonald, a small town southwest of Pittsburgh where my mother grew up and where my ancestors emigrated to from Belgium. It's the setting in my novel, The Narrow Gate. I loved sitting on my grandmother’s porch swing reading a book. Those experiences left me with an awareness of my heritage and a deep sense of belonging that I endeavored to capture in my memoir, Seven Thin Dimes. In McDonald, I learned the comfort, unity, and sense of connection that comes from being one part of a larger whole in a big, loving, extended family.
My grandmother once told me I was a rolling stone that gathered no moss, and I admit I’ve roamed through a number of careers and lived in a wide range of places. I still love to travel, but in 2019 I moved home to Western PA, bought a house in Pittsburgh and, like a leaf that has been blowing in the wind for too long, put my feet down on Western PA soil and let those old roots stretch and unfurl.
Today I'm a former global cyber security education leader, a career I loved and in which I rose to the top of my profession before deciding to retire and focus on my writing. Like my novel, What Lies We Keep (Ten 16 Press, 2024), my books may have an element of cyber security, and will likely be set wholly or partially in Western Pennsylvania. Its lush green mountains, warm sunny beaches, and salt of the earth kind of people are part of my soul, rolling up now and then to remind me of who I am, and regularly cascading over into my work.
In The Storyteller, author Jodie Piccoult says, “All writers start with a layer of truth, don’t they. If not, their stories would be nothing but spools of cotton candy, a fleeting taste wrapped around nothing but air.”
I hope you enjoy my novels, you sense my layer of truth, and you come away feeling entertained, moved, and satisfied with my books.