First, foremost, and above all, I’m a wife and mom. My husband and I have four adult daughters, all married, with healthy, happy, gorgeous children of their own. For this, I feel like the luckiest woman alive.
For my first grownup job, I wrote for the town paper. I’ve since worked in marketing, advertising and public relations. I was an adjunct lecturer (English, writing) at Boston College for seventeen years, until we moved out of state. In Leah’s Wake is my first novel. I’ve written four failed novels and a dozen or so stories, boxed in the attic. I treasure every moment I spend with family. I also enjoy reading, writing, cooking. And I love to be outdoors, surrounded by nature.
Fun facts: I’m addicted to chocolate. My favorite part of any outfit is the shoes. I have no sense of direction – memorizing landmarks prevents me being constantly lost.
In Leah’s Wake
In Leah’s Wake tells the story of a family in collapse. Sixteen-year-old Leah, a star soccer player, has a perfect life. When she meets a sexy older guy, attracted to his independence, she begins to spread her wings. Drinking, ignoring curfew, dabbling in drugs—all this feels like freedom to her. Her terrified parents, thinking they’re losing their daughter, pull the reigns tighter. Unfortunately, they get it all wrong, pushing her away when they ought to be pulling her to them, and communication breaks down. Soon, there’s no turning back. Twelve-year-old Justine, caught between the parents she loves and the big sister she adores, finds herself in the fight of her life, trying desperately to hold her family together. Will this family survive? What happens when love just isn’t enough?
In my twenties, I wrote a series of feature articles about families with drug- and alcohol-addicted teens. The moms spoke candidly about their children, their struggles. Their heartbreaking stories stayed with me.
I’m also a mom. Thankfully, our family never experienced the problems the Tylers face in the book, but I understood the terror and anxiety of raising children in a dangerous world. My work with families, my personal experiences and core beliefs – all of this played out in my mind, and ultimately emerged as this book.
Why I Write Family Stories
Families fascinate me. While my stories are not all the same, they always tie back to the family – the ways we love, yet sometimes hurt one another, the grief, the sorrow, the revelation, the joy. I think people connect with those stories. Over the years, many readers – family, friends, readers I’ve never met – have said In Leah’s Wake feels real. They’ve been there, as a parent or a teen. They feel they know these characters. The chance connect with other people is the reason I write.
Writing contemporary stories does have its challenges. Because readers relate to the family, they sometimes think the characters are my family. The truth is, they are very different. In the novel, Dorothy, the designer of the bracelets Zoe buys, and Bob Sullivan, the owner of Sullivan Farms Ice Cream, are real people–and I’ve done my best to capture their spirit. All other characters are amalgamations of people I knew, people I’ve met, and people I’ve observed over the years.