My desire to write has been trumped only by my desire to eat. So although I’ve wanted to make up stories ever since my mother told me the tales she read me were actually dreamed up by real people, not fairies, I always had a day job. And my day job turned into a rewarding forty-year-long career teaching English, first in high school and later in community college.
I was fifty when I wrote my first published effort, Going by the Book, winner of the James N. Britton Award. It’s a memoir about teaching high school English in New Haven, Connecticut in the Sixties and the teaching narratives that encouraged me.
Inspiration struck next in form of hot flashes. When I turned to fiction for a role model to mentor me through menopause, I found none, so I made one up and named her Bel Barrett. But, alas, I had no story to put Bel in. Then corrupt politicians threatened the very existence of the New Jersey community college where I taught. In less time than it took me to nod to Agatha Christie, I made Bel Barrett a sweaty amateur sleuth in a series of mysteries in which she foils a rogues’ gallery of killers and crooks not unlike the real bribe-seeking boobs running Hudson County, NJ then.
Retiring gave me more time to write, but moving to western Washington proved disorienting. That disorientation inspired me to stop writing what I know and, instead, to research and write The Bones and the Book, a historical mystery set in Seattle’s Jewish community during the Gold Rush and in 1965. It’s due out in print and E-book formats from Oconee Spirit Press in October, 2012!