In my books, you’ll always find someone spending a bit of time by a lake, river or ocean somewhere in the world. I love an endless view of water for as far as the eye can see.
I grew up in the Great Lakes region (the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth) and still love to visit the beaches at Presque Isle, the peninsula of 11 beaches that stretches into Lake Erie. It’s the place my soul calls home. Sitting on a beach in the morning, anywhere, is the best kind of meditation for me. I often spent time there dreaming of having my writing published and read by others. When I won the 2017 TAZ Author Award of 1st Place in Fiction for my novel, The Narrow Gate, I felt like I’d come full circle.
My Grandma Masquelier once told me I was a rolling stone that gathered no moss, and I admit I’ve roamed around through a number of careers and lived in a wide range of places. I’ve lived in Philadelphia; Huntsville, Alabama; Pittsburgh; Cleveland; Phoenix, Arizona; and now in the Chicago area, where I build security awareness programs while writing on the side. I’d still like the chance to live, for a short time, in Europe someday.
Despite living in so many places, I still consider myself a Western Pennsylvania girl at my core. My mother is from McDonald, a small town southwest of Pittsburgh and the inspiration for the setting in The Narrow Gate. We headed to McDonald at least one weekend a month during my childhood, and for weeks in the summers, to see my grandmother and a large flock of aunts, uncles and cousins. I loved sitting on my grandmother’s porch swing, swimming at Raccoon State Park, picnics, fireworks, and consuming a seemingly endless supply of homemade bread and cookies. Those experiences left me with a deep sense of heritage and belonging that I try to capture in my work, specifically in my memoir, Seven Thin Dimes.
I don’t know if all my books will be set in Western Pennsylvania, but I do know that 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 cascading over into my work here and there.
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.
Favorite Books: How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn; Trinity by Leon Uris; Room by Emma Donoghue, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Favorite Movies: When Harry Met Sally, Finding Forrester, Hidden Figures, The King’s Speech, Avatar, Spotlight