I grew up in Hollywood, California, in a neighborhood of old movie moguls that included Cecil B. DeMille and W. C. Fields. As children my two sisters and I were encouraged in all aspects of the arts. Everyone in my family told stories, and before I could actually write, I’d dictate mine to my mother and draw pictures to illustrate them. For a good part of my childhood, I worked as a radio actress and met many famous movie and radio stars. I graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in English and later studied art at DeCordova Museum School and Brandeis while raising five children.
Most of my adult life has been spent in New England. My husband, Wally, and I presently live in our remodeled Gloucester beach house, where I have both a writing and painting studio. Because of living near the ocean in all seasons, the sea figures into much of both my written and visual work. Formerly on the faculty of the Worcester Art Museum, I now teach at Lesley University in the MFA program in creative writing.
For many years I wrote poetry, short stories, and picture books. Hidden Voices is my fourth young adult novel, however, and I’m working on a fifth. I’ve slowly gravitated to historical fiction, both because of my love of history, and because I like to weave fact with fiction in a way that makes the past seem present. Part of the joy of this, is the on-site research that it requires. For Hidden Voices, I spent some glorious days in Venice. Research for Daughter of Winter was more home-based, but allowed me to dig deeply into the shipbuilding past of Essex, Massachusetts. Candlewick also published a picture book, The Deer Watch, which was inspired by the Gloucester land and seascape.
Three Things You Might Not Know About Me:
1. In my preteen years, I was addicted to comic books.
2. I always wanted to be a singer and now sing with a chamber chorus called “Cantemus” which means “we sing.”
3. When I was a child, our family car was a used limousine complete with glass partitions, jump seats, and a little microphone to speak to the driver, our father. The car had belonged to an old movie star, Adolphe Menjou.