I was born and raised in a tiny hamlet in Northern New York, where I discovered my love of reading and writing while attending first grade in one of the last one-room schoolhouses in the state. My first stories starred heroic black horses and a beagle named Buffy the Rabbit Hunter. As I got older, one of my favorite things to do was walk to the general store to buy a nickel candy bar and a scary comic book. I had a vivid imagination back then, imagining terrifying creatures around every corner—kidnappers, ghosts, vampires, and monsters from the deep. I discovered the power of words during my teenage years while reading Stephen King, Anne Rice, and Dean Koontz. When I got married and became a mother, (which was all I ever wanted) writing became a hobby and thinking about getting published became a fun daydream. It wasn’t until my son and daughter left for college that I decided to get serious about it.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but the seeds for my debut novel, THE PLUM TREE, were planted during childhood visits to my mother’s hometown in Germany, where I fell in love with the country’s traditions and culture, and learned the heartrending details of my family’s struggle to survive poverty and the unimaginable chaos of WWII. Somehow even as a young girl, I knew those trips were destined to have a huge impact on my life. But I had no idea they would inspire me to write a novel someday. When the entire plot came to me decades later, I wrote the horrible first draft on a legal pad in three days. Of course after the initial excitement wore off and I read what I’d written, I realized I had a lot to learn. It took over four years of rewriting and research to turn that first draft into a readable manuscript, and another three years to find an agent to represent me. Then things got crazy and, much to my delight, THE PLUM TREE sold in three weeks.
Since then, I’ve written four more novels that have been translated into nineteen languages and sold around the world—WHAT SHE LEFT BEHIND, COAL RIVER, THE LIFE SHE WAS GIVEN and THE ORPHAN COLLECTOR.
I’m beyond grateful to live on the beautiful shores of Lake Ontario with my husband and a spoiled Shih-Tzu named Izzy. When I’m not busy meeting deadlines, I love reading, cooking, gardening, watching movies, swimming, boating, and spending time with my children and grandchildren.