|Author portraits by Jill Johnson|
|MY PATH INTO THE|
I GREW UP IN A SMALL TEXAS TOWN not that far from Ponder, where Playing Dead is set. Before I could drive and kiss boys, my chief entertainment in July and August was walking in 110-degree heat to the old jail, which had been converted into a library.
The librarian was the mother of one of my friends, a very cultured woman who kindly looked the other way as I loaded up with the ten Harlequin romances that my cat and I planned to spend the weekend with. Fantasy was important at that time in my life. In real life, I changed the color of my barrette and knee socks every day to match whatever outfit I wore to middle school. I was described as "pleasingly plump." I filled my diary with fond thoughts about a sweet, handsome boy I passed in the hallways (who was gay, it turns out, and just as wonderful a person as I imagined).
Eventually I grew taller, thinner, cut my hair, picked up some mascara and attracted a boyfriend named Bubba. Santa Claus put Anna Karenina under the Christmas tree. My librarian, not an Amazon search engine, nudged me toward other worthy heroines: Anne Frank, Josephine March, and the nameless narrator of Rebecca. Shortly after visiting Manderley, I dreamed of writing my first book. Five years ago, after an entertaining career as a newspaper features editor, I quit my job, cut my family's income in half and worked through more than two years of writing and rejection to make it happen. I remember once telling a writing coach that I just wanted to write "a trashy book, not the great American novel." He looked at me, a little disappointed, and said, "Well, maybe it will start out that way, and you'll write something better." That's exactly what I hope I did.
READ A Q&A
MY ALTER EGO: Psychotic Baseball Mom, an essay
BARNES AND NOBLE GUEST BLOG: Scary and not, a few things to know about Texas
A Q&A WITH MURDER BY THE BOOK: Why Owen Meany rules at our house
AN INTERVIEW ON GOOD MORNING, TEXAS
A Q&A WITH CRIMESQUAD.COM
A Q&A WITH THE FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM