I love books. Before I learned how to read, I’d lie on the carpet and look through books, fascinated and frustrated by the words I couldn’t decipher. When I reached a chapter break, I thought the white space was there for me to finish the story. So I grabbed a crayon and had at it: YES NO ZOO. Then I’d print my name, with the N’s backward. Then I got scolded for writing in books.
Thus began my writing career. Writing has been the one constant of my life (other than, perhaps, anxiety).
The Christmas when I was eleven, I asked for a desk and a typewriter, a nifty Smith Corona portable. This was before home computers. I was on my way, hunting and pecking stories, poems, letters to pen pals, and journal entries. A high school typing class helped considerably. The quick brown fox jumped over the laxy dgo. Oops.
One afternoon when I was fourteen, I rolled in a fresh sheet of paper, deciding that I was going to begin a novel. I typed away, writing about a girl named Buffalo who was nicknamed Buffy, cranking out a paragraph and a half. Then I got stuck. I set it aside to come back to later.
Weeks passed. That page remained in my typewriter, the typed portion jutting up like a kid’s tongue making a big, wet raspberry.
Thus I encountered the dark side of the moon.
I kept writing journals and letters, although it was years before I attempted another novel. In between writing, I lived my life, at times more successfully than others.
My life in brief.
I was born and raised in a hilly area of Northeast Los Angeles, in a house that was built by my father and uncle at the top of a steep hill. Those last yards walking home from school were pure misery.
My parents were from large Texas farm families. They settled in northeast Los Angeles after WWII. My father built a machine shop business manufacturing nuts, bolts, screws and such, mostly for the defense and aerospace industries. My siblings and I all worked in “The Shop,” making little ones out of big ones, growing up with machine oil under our fingernails. When I got my driver’s license, I delivered parts all over L.A. County in my 1964 Ford Falcon 4-door. Bought it for $200. Great car.
It was a blue-collar childhood. Backyard vegetable gardens and fruit trees. Home-grown peaches made into cobblers and folded into hand-cranked ice cream. Sunday dinners of fried chicken and cream gravy. Skate boards, roller skates, and bicycles. Skinned knees. Drive-in movies. Aluminum Christmas trees.
I attended public schools and was a solid student, but not a star. Even though I was raised in Los Angeles, my life was provincial. Going to the beach, 20 miles away, was a big deal. Going across town to attend UCLA on the Westside was a revelation.
Consumed with the “big questions,” majoring in Philosophy was a natural for me. I also studied French. I spent my junior year at the Université de Bordeaux in southwest France and traveled through Europe.
College graduation, then work and chasing around with friends. Then back to UCLA for my MBA, then work—at higher pay. And chasing around with friends at better places.
Some of the jobs I’ve held: polling place recruiter for the Registrar of Voters, complaint handler for the California Department of Consumer Affairs, department store division manager, clothing boutique buyer, egg and poultry industry marketer, software company sales and support manager, and technical writer.
Late in the saga, I met my wonderful husband Charlie, who made an honest woman of me. I was not killed by terrorists (inside joke for gals of a certain age).
After traveling the world, I now live in a hundred-year-old house outside Los Angeles, five miles from where I grew up.
Through all the years I supported myself with bi-weekly paychecks, I nurtured that little dream, deferred but never forgotten, of being a writer.
Then all my crazy friends started settling down and I did too—to seriously writing. I took a creative writing course at UCLA at night. For years, I rose at 4:30 in the morning to write for two hours before I went to work. I kept writing and even publishing.
Being a crime writer is my last and best job. I still write in books (mine!) and sign my name. Sometimes, I screw up the “N’s.”