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Writing the World

I've been writing stories ever since I learned to make big letters on lined tablets. My first story, completed when I was seven, involved a mustang mare and her foal. Since then, I've written essays, a dissertation, short stories, poetry, three novels and numerous environmental essays.

My perspective as an author is shaped by three critical events in my life. First, my family lost our land grant ranch in Southern California to development pressures. The land had been a critical character in my family's stories and in forming my own sense of self. Second, I studied anthropology and became entranced by the way that culture and nature constantly mirror and shape each other. And finally, my husband suffered through years of very early onset dementia, an experience that threw all my ideas of ordinary life out into the ether. The common thread of these events, besides loss—of place, of traditions, of love—is the power of memory.

My work, published by Story, Appalachian Heritage, Solo Novo, The Cambrian and Hearst Publications, focuses on mending the ties between nature and cultures, on how places, families and stories anchor us and keep us sane. Above all, I write to meditate on the ways that memory serves as the means for grace to move around and through our world.

I was born in California and have lived in Europe and all over the United States. For two decades I taught culture studies and worked in the arts in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. Now I've come back to the live oaks and the fog-breathing Pacific Ocean. Four generations of my family lived here before me. Nowhere else is home.