I was born in Parkersburg, WV, while my dad was in the Army during the Korean War. I am assured he'd not been gone longer than nine months when I arrived, though. We moved to Point Pleasant, in the southwestern part of West Virginia where the Kanawha and Ohio rivers meet. My father was a doctor in general practice. I believe this is when my great love of animals began. I remember so many nights when he was called to go out into the hills and hollows to deliver babies. Often people didn't have money to pay him, so they'd pick a kitten or puppy out of the most recent litter and ask him to "take it home for your little girl" as recompense for the delivery. I was delighted and passionately loved each member of our menagerie. My mother would much rather have seen actual money sometimes.
We moved to Ohio in the sixties so my father could specialize in Radiology at Ohio State University. When we moved home, he still did some general practice and we quickly reestablished our collection of animals. After graduating from Marshall University in English, I went on for a master's, then on a roll that still baffles me, I decided to get a Ph.D. from Ohio State University. I then taught at the University of Rio Grande from 1983-1989, when I quit to become a full-time writer.
I started writing mysteries when I was nine years old and transported by Walt Disney's ONE HUNDRED AND ONE DALMATIANS. It had danger, suspense, AND dogs! I went right home and started THE MYSTERY OF THE GOLDEN RETRIEVER, a surefire blockbuster no publishers have yet seen fit to spring on the public. Throughout the years, I never stopped writing. For a short while I submitted "highly literary" short stories to magazines. They always came flying back to me with a rejection slip. I'm glad, now, because my heart was really in writing suspense. I got the idea for my first book, BLACK FOR REMEMBRANCE, one afternoon when I was taking two of my dogs for a walk in a wooded area. I walked for hours, outlining most of the story in my mind. I brought home two exhausted dogs and started writing that very day. I dallied with that book, spending about a year and a half on it because I never dreamed it would be published. Now, luckily, I actually get contracts to do two books, one a year. And I do have deadlines.
Most of my books are set in West Virginia. YOU CAN RUN, for instance, is set in Huntington, WV, home of Marshall University. Other books have imaginary settings such NOWHERE TO HIDE and my latest book, TO THE GRAVE. Both are set in the imaginary town of Aurora Falls. TO THE GRAVE, the sequel to NOWHERE TO HIDE, features my dog, Lindsay. (see Pets in Book). Let me say now that all my characters are fictional except for the cats and dogs. In each book I include at least one of my pets. I try to make the animals as true-to-life as possible with all their different personalities and quirks. It's my way of keeping them alive forever, or at least as long as people read my books.
I have a lot of fun writing suspense, and I hope those of you out there who buy my books have just as much fun reading them.
Photo by Jim Sprouse
With Ashley at Tu-Endie-Wei Park
Photo by Dave Nibert