As a child in the 1960s, I ran wild in the woods behind my home in Atlanta, building elaborate forts and repeatedly stealing the baby Jesus doll from a nearby nativity scene. Those adventures – before Atlanta lost most of its tree canopy in the 1970s – fueled complex make-believe people and places. This may explain my intensely immersive physical descriptions … and my fierce love for the natural world.
These days, I live in Ponce Inlet, Florida, where I’m a volunteer member of the Volusia-Flagler Turtle Patrol. I’m also a writer and adjunct instructor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
I wrote my first short story, “The Ghost of Rock Mountain,” at age six. Plot summary: A ghost was terrorizing the town. Different townspeople kept venturing up Rock Mountain to combat the ghost, but each time, they disappeared, one by one – until a brave, clever girl scared the ghost off. Undoubtedly, this story was a Nancy Drew rip-off. I loved Nancy Drew because she was a smart girl who solved problems, and also because her hair was described as “Titian.”
My second novel, Snakes of St. Augustine, features a quirky ensemble cast, several stolen reptiles, and a hefty side of Florida weirdness. It explores the importance of community, family, and belonging.
The book was inspired by a real-life tragedy involving the late Jason Harrison. A man living with psychosis, Harrison was killed after his mother asked police officers to help get him to a hospital. In writing my book, I learned that people with psychosis are two and a half-times more likely to be mugged or raped, compared with the rest of us.
Too often, discrimination and stigma turn people with neuro-diverse conditions into “the others.” I’ve witnessed this injustice first-hand, as two different loved ones with invisible differences have been subjected to a lack of compassion.
My first novel, City in a Forest (2019) won a Gold 2020 Royal Palm Literary Award from the Florida Writers Association (FWA).
I earned my M.F.A. degree from Queens University of Charlotte and my B.S. degree in Creative Writing from Eckerd College. Before moving to Florida, I worked for many years as the Chief Communications Officer for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington, D.C. I’m proud to be an elected Fellow of the AAAS as well as a member of the FWA and the National Association of Science Writers.
Long ago and far away, I worked as a newspaper reporter. Also, I held jobs with the Georgia Tech Research Institute, the University of Delaware, and the National Academy of Sciences. I had a daughter named Caroline, the love of my life, who is now an anthropologist, ethnographer, foodie, and former Peace Corps volunteer.