I was born in Cambridge, England - where my parents both taught at the University of Cambridge. However, I grew up in California - where my fair British skin burned every summer. Tired of being slowly roasted alive, I moved to Washington state after high school. I earned a B.A. in Creative Writing and then stuck around an extra four years working in an independent bookstore. Now I live in California again. (I personally adore the rainy, grey weather of the Pacific Northwest, but I needed the vitamin D.)
We moved to the U.S. from England when I was only two years old, but visited Britain most summers. It was on the last of these summer visits in high school that my first book idea struck me.
Let me back up, though. I discovered my passion for writing in a rather roundabout manner: through studying Japanese. During my third year of Japanese, the teacher required us to keep a weekly journal. Ideally this assignment would push us to look up new vocabulary and sentence structures...except most people, myself included, adopted a rather boring, repetitive, and simple formula for journal entries: mostly about what time we did certain activities and what we ate that day. I’ve always liked a challenge, so I grew bored with this lazy approach. Instead I decided to write a story. Surely that would force me to stretch my vocabulary and grammar! I didn’t outline the story. I would write the required two pages a week and end with “to be continued…” without the faintest idea what would happen next week. Along the way, something clicked. Making up a story felt fun and natural and like I had found “my thing”: what I’m meant to do. At that point it occurred to me that I might be able to write a better story in English!
So when an idea struck me later that summer on walk through the woods in England, I started my first book. I didn’t get very far during my last year of high school, but I wrote fervently at college and had my first draft of a book finished within my first year. By then I also had many more ideas bidding for my attention, so I wrote a second book during my sophomore year. Then I devoted my junior year entirely to revision and my senior year to researching how publishing works. Nowadays I juggle writing new works, polishing old, researching the industry, and, of course, submitting. My first publication (a short story titled “Medusa Complex”) was published in Leading Edge magazine in August 2013.
Aside from writing and reading, my interests include: animals (especially dogs), other creative outlets (such as painting and sketching), and fitness (particularly yoga, running, and Insanity). During Junior High and High School I raised three Guide Dogs for the Blind. The first two graduated, but the third failed due to a knee condition. (Guide Dogs prefers the term “career changed” instead of “failed”). However, after his “career change” the actress Betty White adopted my beloved pooch...so I now see him making appearances in pet commercials or tagging along with Betty on interviews. Career change indeed.
I currently have a cat named Neko, which means “cat” in Japanese. Her good qualities include being adorable and her bad being evil. I’m given to understand that’s standard for cats. However, I’m far more well-versed in dog behavior. Aside from my experience with Guide Dogs I also worked at a training-intensive doggie daycare during college where we managed a group of 16 big dogs or 25 little ones. We’re talking about dogs so well trained that I would play Red Light Green Light with them. I unsuccessfully tried treating Neko like she was a dog at first, but am slowly learning to speak cat. I did, however, clicker train her and she knows numerous commands now: sit, down, stay, sit up, spin, high five, shake, stay, off, be nice. (The last means stop attacking my guest.)
I started a blog way back in 2008 when I decided I wanted to be an author and everyone told me I needed to blog. Except I had no idea what to say and didn’t want to bore people with the minutiae of my life just because someone told me I “had to.” Then I attended a writing conference with a panel on social media where someone provided some simple, concise advice that gave me a eureka moment: “Never use social media because you feel obligated to. That comes through. Think about what you care about and find the best platforms for talking about it.” What I care about: Reading. Books. Reviews. At that moment it all seemed so obvious. I had never posted a single thing on my blog, but less than a week later I added my first review and I’ve been steadily blogging about books ever since. I realized blogging doesn’t have to be me begrudgingly sharing private and/or dull details of my life. It’s another place for me to discuss what I love most: stories.