My Parents and Sibs
I think I'm safe in saying that our house wasn't exactly quiet growing up. I have four younger brothers who found it really funny to do things like shoot one end of a slinky with an action figure stuck on the end into whatever room I was in, especially if I had a boy over and was trying to act sophisticated. They also eavesdropped on my phone conversations bursting out with, "Up your nose with a rubber hose!" at random moments. Or, for more fun, they hid recorders under couches when they knew my friends and I would be chatting about private girl stuff. Can you believe I still talk to them?
I have an older sister, Colleen, who has always been my guardian angel and BFF and my baby sister, Noreen, who is my other BFF.
My dad was a lawyer, my overall hero, and most importantly, my mentor in throwing a football with a perfect spiral. My mom took care of all of us, making probably close to a million meals over the years and driving us to all our lessons and games.
We all have a series of nicknames and bizarre code expressions for different things so being in the middle of my family is like being in a foreign country, or on another planet, if you're not one of us.
All seven of us were born within nine years so the good news as a kid was, you always had someone to play with, or fight with, depending on your mood.
A Closet Reader
This isn't a metaphor. I was literally, a closet reader. I had chores to do every week. Insufferable things like cleaning my room and doing the dishes. To avoid the work which struck me as endless and pointless, I hid books in cabinets and closets all over the house so that wherever I was sent, whatever task I was assigned, I could avoid it and read for hours. The first scene in invisible girl where Stephanie is hiding in the closet reading, well, uh, that really happened with me. Except, for the part about the mother and all the bad stuff. My mom is the total opposite of Stephanie's.
This is a little embarrassing to admit, but in fourth grade I got 42 out of 50 wrong on one of those maps where you're supposed to identify the states. And yes, I studied. I've since determined that I'm missing some sort of chromosome that enables you to remember places and figure out directions. I can go to a house fifty times and still get lost on the fifty-first time. I just can't see maps in my head. Plus, I tend not to focus when I'm in a car. I'm always blasting music when I drive and music leads to stories and stories leads to complete spacing out, so, you see the issue. I did do well in English at school because of all the reading I did at home to escape my responsibilities so at least I wasn't a total disgrace.
I went to the University of Michigan for college and, of course, studied English and creative writing because why would you want to be hunched over horrible mathematical or chemical formulas in the library when you could just be reading novels? I LOVED all the books I read in college and I still reread a lot of my favorite authors when I get a craving for them.
When I was eight, I wrote that I was going to be a lawyer, like my dad, and then write novels like Carolyn Keene who wrote Nancy Drew books. So, after college, I went to law school, also at the University of Michigan. At first, I hated law school because I didn't get it. Then one day, I was reading this case about a fox hunt in merry old England and it hit me: the cases were just stories—stuff that happened to people, like fights over property or physical fights. The judges in the cases were just like the moms or dads who decided who was right and who was wrong. Suddenly, law school made sense to me and I'd read ahead in the casebook, not always figuring out the legal analysis, but sure loving the stories.
Being a lawyerI worked for a civil firm in Chicago for one year and almost bored myself into a permanent stupor. The people at my firm were nice, but the work was all about fights over money. Finally, one day, I stumbled onto some books that reported cases about crimes and I got that fantastic feeling of being eight again and reading a Nancy Drew. I left my firm and moved to Los Angeles to join the District Attorney's Office.
As a deputy district attorney, I have specialized in prosecuting criminals who hurt kids and young adults. I chose these cases because I love taking care of the victims. It's like being a big sister all over again—just without the part about the slinkies and the action figures. invisible girl was inspired by the courage of many of the young girls I have met through work.
Music is the key
My great grandfather on my dad's side played the bagpipes back in Ireland and was known as "Jimmy the Piper". Seriously. My grandfather on my mom's side played guitar and my dad plays the piano. All the kids in my family played at least one instrument growing up.
I played piano and violin and I was required to practice a half an hour a day on each instrument before I could go out with my friends. If I missed a day, I had to double the time the next. Since I had novels hidden in the piano bench and in my violin case my progress was, shall we say, rather slow. Plus, my brother, Arthur, passed me within two months of starting lessons, when I'd been taking them for two years before he started.
Arthur is one of those guys who hears a song once and just sits down and plays it perfectly. My brothers Danny and Kevin are like that on guitar and John on drums. When I hear music, I have no idea how to play it, but I feel a story. A certain song will deliver a character or a scene. I'm probably the only person in L.A. who doesn't mind driving in traffic because that's when I get my writing done. Since I work full time as a lawyer, I don't have time to write like a normal person. Instead, I blast music in my car and as the scenes fall into my head, I scribble them down at red lights or speak into a tiny recorder. Then, on weekends, between my kids' soccer games, I do mini-marathon writing sessions, where I write non-stop until I hear a whistle blow and a game begin.
Being a wife and mom
I married my best friend in the District Attorney's Office, Richard Stone, who is now a judge and my favorite person to hang out with. We have two children who, I have to say, I worship and find endlessly fascinating. I think having four younger brothers has helped make me a better mother because if, for example, one of my kids bounces a ball off my head, I don't totally freak out.
Let's hear from you
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Thanks so much for reading my books!
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