(They say you should never start a tale by telling where the main character was born — no reader is interested in going back “that far.” But every rule has its exceptions and this is one of them — when the author tells her own tale.)
I was born in New York City, an only child. I was a sick kid, always home with asthma, and books became my solace. I consumed them, along with chocolate chip cookies, one right after the other, and at the same time developed a deep love for those black and white movies of the 1940s.
As a teenager, I studied drama at the High School of Performing Arts in New York City. At age 16, I won a scholarship to Swarthmore College, where I majored in Comparative Religion and minored in Black Anthropology. I later studied at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, to earn a master’s degree.
I worked for The Associated Press in Arkansas; Washington, DC; and New York. I also wrote for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc., (RFE) in Munich. I was on hand to witness the political as well as physical eradication of the Berlin Wall. Eventually, RFE/RL moved its operations to Prague, laying off most of its Munich staff. I remained in Munich with my family, working as a freelance book editor, and doing cultural reporting and voice work for European publications.
During this period, I also tried my hand at writing a novel. This was something I’d always wanted to do. The results got me a wonderful agent. However, the manuscript went unsold, so I started work on another manuscript. Several months into it, I was advised to put it aside and concentrate on my health: I had been diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer.
My physicians in Germany were excellent; my friends and family loyal and supportive. I received chemotherapy and radiation and a recuperative cure. To this day, I remain cancer-free.
In late 2003, I returned to New York, a single mother, with my two children. In 2011, I joined the U.S. Department of State and became a Foreign Service Officer. That means, among other things, that I learn a new language and change countries every two years. (So far, I speak English, German and Portuguese, with a very rusty smattering of French.) My first diplomatic posting was in Brazil. My second: Poland.