When I was 25, an American living in America, I made up my mind that I would have friends all over the world. I was in graduate school at the time, pursuing a PhD in American history and planning to spend the rest of my life talking to 18-22 year olds about the American Civil War.
Things didn’t turn out that way. I live in Hong Kong. I work at an international school where I spend my days with people as young as 3 to as old as their grandparents. I sometimes talk about the American Civil War, but mainly I talk about the importance of education and the power of education to change people’s lives. I love to watch children flourish.
And I do have friends around the world, living on nearly every continent. Just in the school where I work, the families hail from more than 40 countries. My days are shaped by the sounds of myriad languages, songs, and beliefs. And stories. My friends from around the world tell me wonderful stories.
My career has taken me many places. Early on after graduate school, I worked at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. I’ve run a small non-profit organization and consulted for other non-profits. Over the years, I’ve helped organizations tell their stories, make strategic plans and raise funds to realize their goals. I’ve written millions of words by now, and I’ve had the privilege of always writing what I believed and believing what I write.
After Cairo is my first novel. I wrote it because I believe that art changes lives. Music, sculpture, painting, novels and films — they have the power to move us and shape us. In my case, a film ushered me into the world of fiction writing. For someone who started out as an historian, that was a change in direction. But I believe in the power of stories — whether fact or fiction — to challenge, heal and transform.
And so I write.
A wise man once told me that every book is an act of autobiography, so let me own some of myself in the novel. I am an avid choral musician and sometime poet. I’m a native Californian, but I’ve lived in the Northeast of the US, although I know my way around Berlin better than NYC. I’ve resided in Connecticut, Wisconsin, Washington, DC and Virginia. But ultimately my heart belongs to the Pacific Rim, and Hong Kong is a wonderful place to call home. I know of no other city — except for perhaps Berlin — with such a can-do attitude. Where else on earth do you find an outdoor escalator going up a mountainside? Or lighted paths in the jungle? And there’s nothing like the view from the Star Ferry.
I hope you enjoy reading my novel as much as I enjoyed writing it. And in honor of the power of art to change lives, if you like the novel, please change the lives of others by making a donation to the charity of your choice. For information about organizations specifically working to improve the lives of refugees, check out the Make a Difference page of this website.
Thanks for stopping by!