The daughter of American missionaries, I was born and raised in Southeast Asia. Most of my childhood was spent reading or forcing the long-suffering family pets to act out the plots of books I'd recently read.
In college, everything interested me, and I could never answer the question “What do you want to be?” without a measure of sarcasm over the idea that “being” something was somehow equated with “doing” something. Still, guidance tests had revealed a natural predilection for verbal and mechanical skills, which had caused my high school counselor to suggest English literature or, if that didn’t interest me, perhaps becoming a car mechanic. Oddly, no one suggested mechanical engineering, probably because I had managed to fail Algebra I the first time I took it.
After stints as a secondary education major, a theater major, and a humanities major, I graduated with a degree in English literature. Still interested in everything, I went on to graduate school for an MA in European history, where I focused on the social, political, and religious history of twelfth- and thirteenth-century France.
While working toward a PhD in European history with a concentration in nineteenth-century social/political history combined with political, labor, and feminist theory, I began the painful process of re-examining what really interested me (beyond the label “everything”). I had been writing stories all my life, but I’d always pictured authors as reclusive, frightened, bitter people. Realizing that the description also applied to PhD students, I abandoned my prejudice against being an author and wrote my first book. I naively assumed that awards and editor requests meant I was going to be published by tomorrow or, at worst, the day after. I left graduate school and began writing full time, even when it became obvious I was not going to be a published author tomorrow or even next week. Three years later, Coffee & Kung Fu was published by Penguin Press.
Writing is, in many ways, a reversion to childhood. I still spend most of my time reading and living in the world of my imagination, but the family pets are happy to report that I no longer enlist their services in acting out plots.
"I am always at a loss to know how much to believe of my own stories." --Washington Irving, Tales of a Traveler