Just the facts: I was born in Seattle two days before Christmas, an early post-World War II baby boomer. My mom was a civic volunteer sort of mom who baked chocolate chip cookies in the afternoons before we got home from school. Every August, she would round up all the neighborhood kids and drill us with arithmetic flash cards to limber us up for school. My dad was a physician who researched endocrine physiology with rats in between taking care of human patients. I worked in his lab during my high school summers, executing rats with a rodent-sized guillotine, squeezing blood out of their bodies and snipping their tiny pituitary glands out of their heads.
What else did you do before you started writing?
I was in my late 40s when I started to think about writing books. I’d always been a fulltime working mother and wife, first working as a pediatric nurse and then as a project manager/IT consultant. I also went to college a lot: two bachelor’s degrees and two master’s degrees—one in political science, two in nursing and one in public health. Never English literature. Never creative writing.
Before college, I was part of the rowdier wing of the 1960s antiwar movement. I participated in lots of antiwar and civil rights demonstrations, lived in communes, tripped on LSD, went to jail in Chicago, visited Cuba in 1969, and was part of the Weather Underground. I have my FBI file; it’s over 400 pages long. I’ve donated it to the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections.
Why did you decide to write books?
Books have given me so much; I wanted to see if I could give something back. My three books so far all come from a lifetime of quests and questions. Besides, I wanted a job where I could poke through my own refrigerator, drink really hot tea not in Styrofoam cups, and do laundry at the same time.
What authors do you like to read?
I read a lot of British biographies, autobiographies and fiction. English authors tend not to dumb down their language or simplify their plots as much as American writers do. I like to read books by or about women; maybe because so much of my working life has been spent in the company of men. I cull the weekly “Times Literary Supplement” (London Times, not New York Times) for reading recommendations. I write short reviews on Goodreads of some of the books I read.