I grew up outside of Philadelphia and have spent most of my adult life as an educator. I taught English to high school students, all kinds of undergraduate courses in writing and American literature, and educational leadership to candidates for Ph.D. degrees.
At 65, I decided to take an Introduction to Creative Nonfiction class at the university where I was teaching. I have to say I was nervous. I waited until the last day to register and had to go to the department chair for an override and ask the instructor’s permission because the class had already filled. The seminar consisted of eight sophomore, junior, and senior students, all women, each of us willing to explore our most personal stories together. For me that meant memories of growing up in a large Irish Catholic family, entering the convent at 18, leaving the sisters at 39, and coming out as a lesbian shortly after. Themes in my writing emerged over time: insider/outsider dynamics, borders, family, home, spirituality/religion, guilt, shame, and freedom.
After retiring from my full-time teaching position, I became intrigued with the idea of writing historical fiction. I had recently read The Paris Bookseller by Kerri Maher, an enlightening account of 1920s Paris and Sylvia Beech’s role in publishing James Joyce’s masterpiece Ulysses. When last in Paris, I stood in line for 30 minutes waiting to get into Sylvia’s famous bookstore, Shakespeare and Company. During this period, Sylvia and her bookstore became a hub for many of the literary stars at the time: Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and Natalie Barney among them.
That’s when I got the itch to write fiction about real people. I also gravitated toward that period in Paris because, as an English major myself, I had always been drawn to the Modernist era and the explosion of artistic innovation and experimentation that took place against the backdrop of WWI. My novel-in-progress focuses on Romaine Brooks, a portrait painter and expat in the Modernist’s Paris whose work was often overlooked because it was viewed as too “traditional.” My novel explores her life, her loves, and all the ways her paintings were anything but traditional.
2015 - Today
I teach at a university here in Baltimore in the school of education. My primary responsibilities are teaching online to students pursuing a Ph.D. in higher education leadership and teaching a dissertation seminar, helping students shape their research proposals. I love my students. Smart, committed, compassionate.
And now, I can say officially that I am a writer! I have publications in Hippocampus, Narratively, The Baltimore Sun, and an upcoming essay in LitHub.
Provost, Wesley College, Dover DE
Associate Vice President, Notre Dame of Maryland University
Shepherd University, Dean and English Professor
1995 The George Washington University
Ph.D. American Literature
1986 The Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury College
MA in English
1979 Chestnut Hill College
BA in English