I started to write a bio about where I grew up and went to school and what degrees I have in what fields of study. Boring, boring, boring. If you really want to know all of that, you can read my bio on my publisher’s website. In a nutshell, I grew up in California and moved to Minnesota for the weather. I’ve lived in Minnesota longer than I lived in California, so I now consider myself a native, even though I still haven’t been ice fishing or tried lutefisk. (Don’t hold your breath on either of these.)
I did not grow up in a religious home, though I’ve always been spiritual. Despite my parents’ aversion to it, I reclaimed my Judaism when I was 15, and I finally felt like I was home. Religion for me, as it is for my protagonist David in the Rabbi David Cohen series, is a framework for helping us to understand our relationship with God, our relationship(s) with our community(ies), and our relationship with ourselves. I do not believe that any religion is The One and Only True Way to God, and I’m not sure how well I get along with people who do believe that.
Over the past 30+ years, I’ve learned both formally and informally with numerous rabbis around the country, both online and in person. I’ve taught about Judaism to both Jews and Christians, both formally and informally, as a way to help others understand what this rich tradition means in this age of iEverything.
When I was eight, I told my teacher that I wanted to read a book about a girl and a horse. I’d already read all the girl/horse books in the school library and the local county library. I even read a bunch of boy/horse books. But I had one in mind that I wanted to read. “I don’t think that book exists yet,” my teacher said when she heard me describe the plot I was thinking about. “Maybe you’re the one who needs to write it.” I did, and I’ve been writing ever since.
The roots of Destined to Choose came from a college paper on the nature of morality that I wrote in dialogue form back in 1987, when, according to my oldest son, dinosaurs still roamed the earth. Destined to Choose was published right after my second child was born. Just as a side note, if you’re an author, or thinking of becoming an author, and you’re planning to have children, don’t have a book launch and a child within a few months of each other. Just don’t. Trust me.
All the great writing gurus say to write what you love, and my books are exactly the kind of books I love to read: smart, humorous, suspenseful books that make you think and feel. A lot of mystery/suspense/thriller novels are highly plot-driven, with two-dimensional characters. I can’t stand those. I have a very long memory, and if the whole book is about who did it (or why), with no character development, then what’s the point in rereading it? I’d rather have a good character-driven story, where the reader gets to grow and stretch and learn and feel right along with the characters. Every time I reread a book like that, I get something new out of it.
Strength to Stand is heavier on plot than Destined to Choose is, largely because I wanted to put David in ever-more challenging situations, and being held at gunpoint by a violent stalker who has been hounding David’s friend and colleague for weeks seemed to be a good challenge. The third book raises the stakes even more, when one of David’s congregants is murdered and another congregant is the prime suspect.
That said, my writing integrates some of the things I love most: Judaism, teaching, community, and family. While writing is a solitary art, it’s not done in a vacuum. My life—and my writing—are richer for having other people in it.
Thank you for stopping by, and I hope that your time on this site will leave you a little richer for the experience.
P.S. My favorite questions are “Why?” and “Why not?” 🙂