I grew up on the ocean, and frankly, I can’t imagine living without it. I joke a lot about how I couldn’t even consider living in a landlocked state, but I’m only sort of kidding. The town I was born and raised in sits directly on Long Island Sound in southwestern Connecticut, with five beaches and one state park all in just fourteen miles of shoreline. Salt air is in my blood. It’s in my entire family’s blood. My dad’s side has been living in Connecticut since the seventeenth century. I’m not just a New Englander, I’m a Nutmegger, through and through; but we all have to go somewhere else, eventually.
First I went away to college, all the way to New Jersey, which wasn’t much of a trip, since it’s where my parents mostly grew up and the home of an aunt and uncle the family visited frequently during my childhood; but it was a first step. I spent four years there, double majoring in English literature and European history. I was a medievalist—my specialty was the Scottish Wars of Independence—and I had every intention of going on to graduate school and becoming a historian and a university professor. Until I got to my senior year and realized that if I spent one more hour in a library, I’d be tempted to go on my own crusade, inflicting fatal paper cuts on masses of innocent bystanders and slamming heads in the photocopiers. For everyone’s sake, I shelved that goal and spent a couple of years managing a fine craft gallery in a riverside town on the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
From there, I bounced down to Tennessee for a couple of years before moving back to New Jersey and starting my first real career in medical education. To this day, I know more about prescription medications than anyone should, but somehow, I discovered that writing brochure copy and pulling supporting research materials for educational slide decks failed to fully exercise my creativity. In my free time, I read romances, the genre of books I’d fallen in love with as a precocious and deceitful twelve-year-old girl. And mid-way through one of those books, I thought, “Huh. I could do this.”
So I did. Despite all temptation, I didn’t start by digging out one of the spiral notebooks full of first chapters I had scribbled out longhand during my high school study halls. I decided to make a fresh start, to do something different. Different ended up as the first book I ever finished and the first one I ever published, released in e-book format and the source of the stunning realization that I could maybe, kinda, possibly, sorta, someday become a real writer.
It took another five years. I wrote the whole time, beginning with e-books and gradually making my way into print publishing, but one of the first lessons I learned was that being a full-time author wasn’t easy. It took dedication, hard work, and persistence, and a couple of years of working three jobs before I could make writing my career. Now that it is, I don’t regret a single sacrifice I had to make to get here. I’d do it all again. In a heartbeat.
Fifteen years after I left New England, I finally settled in the Pacific Northwest, and frankly, I can’t figure out what took me so long. I love this place, the mountains, the valleys, the forests, and YES, the ocean, even if it’s on the wrong side now. Together with my two dogs and my neurotic horse, I relish every minute of life on the left coast and of the freedom to share the fruits of my slightly skewed imagination with the rest of the world. Like it or not.