Hailing from the Lone Star State, I studied journalism at the University of Texas in Austin before setting off to New Orleans to do the 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. reporting shift for UPI in the late 1980s. And that was just the beginning of an ongoing quest to satisfy my wanderlust.
My husband and I eloped to Guatemala in 1991 and wound up living and freelancing in Central America for two years.
Before taking on my most recent — and perhaps most challenging — job as a senior editor at AARP, overseeing Instagram and The Girlfriend and the Disrupt Aging newsletters, I was a London-based foreign correspondent for seven years for Cox Newspapers, covering Europe. My three kids got to visit everywhere from Jordan and Israel to Iceland and Denmark. Their favorite trip? South Africa, for sure.
Previously I also covered New York City before, during and after 9/11, and the Caribbean and Latin America for three years, for Cox.
After obtaining British citizenship, we left London and moved to Montclair, New Jersey in 2009 with our intrepid children, who marveled at the spacious yards of suburban America. But even as I jumped from one location to the next, my number one goal has always been to be an author.
I got lucky.
When I was living in Central America, I came upon an awful lot of retired Americans who told me they wished they’d had a guidebook to help them plan their retirement in Mexico and throughout Latin America. That gave me the idea for my first book: "Your Guide to Retiring to Mexico, Costa Rica, and Beyond." Without the help of an agent, I sent it out to a few publishers and sold the book within weeks to Avery Publishing. I thought, “wow, this book writing stuff isn’t so hard…”
Over the next several years, I tried to sell a book on the difficulties of being a Type A career woman and mother. Unfortunately, a little book called "I Don’t Know How She Does It" by Allison Pearson came out and — wouldn’t you know — it was brilliant.
Then, after visiting a lovely town in England called Lyme Regis, and stumbling upon a display in a local museum about a fossil hunter named Mary Anning, I got lucky again. After years of receiving hundreds of rejection letters — and developing a very thick skin — my biography, "The Fossil Hunter," was published by Palgrave Macmillan in October 2009.
That led me to write and talk a great deal about girls and science — and how to get more women to go into scientific fields.
It also led to my next book, "Madame Curie and her Daughters: The Private Lives of Science’s First Family," that was published by Palgrave Macmillan on August 21, 2012. Writing this book was pure bliss.
Then... when asked by my editors to consider writing a biography of St. Catherine of Siena, this Presbyterian married to an agnostic hesitated. What did I know about female saints? But the more I looked into this frail woman who wasn’t afraid to give even the pope a good tongue-lashing if he needed it, the more enthralled I became. And so I wrote "Setting the World on Fire: The Brief, Astonishing Life of St. Catherine of Siena" — and I’m so glad I did. In 2016, an era of selfies, Kardashians and social media, it was refreshing to learn about a completely selfless person who believed that doing for others was the only true path to happiness.
And so now, finally, comes the biography that's posed the most challenges but brought about the greatest rewards: "Forgotten Hero."
I hope you enjoy it.
Folke Bernadotte's son, Bertil
Folke Bernadotte's son, Bertil
Best dog in the world