I love to bake. Unlike writing a book, which can take several years, baking is instant gratification. I find rising dough magical—a little ball under a towel becomes a big pouf an hour later. But I don’t like chocolate! My friends get all my chocolate desserts.

The Lost Family

The Lost Family

I spent several years in my 20s working in food service to subsidize my expensive writing habit. I was a hostess, a waitress, a cafe manager, and a prep chef. For one job I had to wear a hat shaped like a head of garlic.

I was married at 23 to a British man I met at Covent Garden during my junior study abroad. We lived in London and I loved it! The marriage didn’t work because he wanted a young family and I wanted to write books, but it was a lovely time and I wish him well.

I started writing when I was 4. My dad was a newswriter who wrote for Walter Cronkite, and my earliest memories have the soundtrack of his typewriter. All I wanted to do was grow up to be a writer like my dad.

It took me 33 years to publish my first book, Those Who Save Us. I had 43 rejection letters from agents before I found the right one. To be a writer one must adhere to Winston Churchill’s advice: “Never give in, never give in, never give in.”

To research my 2nd novel, The Stormchasers, I went tornado-chasing with a professional storm tour company, Tempest Tours. We were like the people you see on Discovery Channel driving up to tornadoes, except with less screaming.

To research my first novel, Those Who Save Us, which is about the Nazi regime as experienced by a German woman, I went to Germany three times with my mom. Which was arguably scarier than tornado chasing.

While I was writing Those Who Save Us, I interviewed Holocaust survivors for the Steven Spielberg Survivors of the Shoah Foundation. It was one of the greatest privileges of my life. Survivors told me “The world must never forget,” and I hope I helped honor their stories with my first novel and my latest, The Lost Family, which features a survivor, Peter Rashkin, starting afresh and how difficult that is for him and his new family because of the one he lost during the war.

The love of my life my 13-year-old black Labrador, Woodrow, who is named after a cowboy in one of my favorite novels, Lonesome Dove, and who has his own Facebook page. (Which consists of his speculations on the ridiculousness of human activity, like typing for hours when they could be eating or chasing balls.)

I have to read once a day, or I become cranky. I read novels or books to research what I’m writing at the time, and I read sitting on the couch, plate of food (i.e. cheese) on my lap and book in hand. And, of course, Woodrow sitting beside me, awaiting tidbits.