I may have grown up in the Midwestern suburbs of Indianapolis, Indiana, but since then I have eaten cream teas in Oxfordshire, slid down rocks in a Mato Grosso river, eaten stewed goat at an African wedding, and climbed Table Mountain. (If you read the rest of this page, you will find out where I lived when I did those things.) My books are set in a variety of countries, and each tries to capture the unique feel of that place.
I have been married to my husband since 1973. We have two daughters, two sons-in-law, and three grandchildren. I have a BA in philosophy (Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, 1973) and an MA in library and information science (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, 1977). But my secret love has always been children’s literature. I began collecting beautiful picture books before I had the excuse of my own children, but I didn't start writing seriously until I was well into my forties.
Ethiopia: When we lived in Ethiopia (1976-77), I was the librarian at Good Shepherd School, a boarding school for missionary children. It was a tense year with three political coups and thirteen different rebel groups vying for control of the country. By the end of that year so many foreigners had left that the school closed.
Brazil: My two daughters were born while we lived in Brazil (1978-1982), which later inspired Between Two Worlds. In Campo Grande, capitol of the western state of Mato Grosso do Sul, I set up the library for a new theological college. Sometimes we spent weekends with Brazilian friends on their family cattle ranch where we drank coffee with creamy milk still warm from the cow and slid down the rocks into their swimming hole.
Mozambique: I set up another theological library in Maputo, Mozambique (1985-1990). The country was experiencing a civil war, which I later described in The Wooden Ox. We couldn't travel out of the city very often for safety reasons, but once we attended a rural wedding where we ate goat and joined the traditional dancing.
South Africa: The first time we lived in South Africa (1993-1996), I consulted for theological libraries in Southern and East Africa as well as Eastern Europe. In my spare time, I started writing a story about a hockey player who wanted to learn to figure skate. That story later became Crossovers. My favorite get-away was to climb one of the many routes up Table Mountain.
England: In 1997 and 1998 my husband, a consultant for theological schools, was assigned to our international office in Newbury, England. I organized 100 years of archives in preparation for our mission organization, Africa Evangelical Fellowship, to merge with Serving in Mission, SIM. I took a correspondence course on writing for children and young people and began drafting The Wooden Ox. Meanwhile we explored historic castles and monasteries, including the ruined abbey at Glastonbury, and enjoyed cream teas, especially served in English gardens.
Indiana: In 1998 we returned to Indianapolis where my husband worked with Overseas Council, an international support organization for theological schools in the non-Western world. I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, began attending writers’ conferences and critique groups, and saw my first fiction published.
Back to South Africa: We returned to South Africa (2005-2008) where I focused on writing for children affected by HIV & AIDS. I also conducted story hours in orphanages, day care centers and after school programs for orphans and vulnerable children. Some of these children lived alone with their brothers and sisters without any adult supervision. Their favorite book? Cinderella—the story of an abused orphan who grows up to marry someone rich and powerful.
In my spare time I enjoyed training as an adult figure skater at the local ice rink, featured in Keeping Secrets, the story of a promising South African figure skater worried people will find out her father has HIV.
Wisconsin: In 2008 we returned to the family lake home in the Northwoods of Wisconsin where I'm working on book three of the Glastonbury Grail series. When I am not at my computer, you will probably find me walking in the woods or figure skating.