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ABOUT ME

Shelley Emling headshot

    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 effort to satisfy my wanderlust.

    In fact, my husband and I eloped to Guatemala in 1991 and wound up living and freelancing in Central America for two years.

    Currently I am the Executive Editor, Specialized Content at AARP, overseeing The Girlfriend, The Ethel, and four other e-newsletters as well as a variety of social channels including the online Girlfriend Book Club with over 60,000 members on Facebook. Previously I was a London-based foreign correspondent for Cox Newspapers for many years, covering everything from Prince William’s love life to European politics. My three children got to visit everywhere from Jordan and Israel to Iceland and Denmark. Their favorite trip? South Africa, for sure.

     Previously I covered New York City before and after 9/11 and the Caribbean and Latin America (from Miami) — 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, and one job to another, my number one goal was always to be an author — of books.

    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 have had a guidebook to help them plan their retirement in 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…”

    WRONG!!!!

    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 museum about a fossil hunter named Mary Anning, I finally got lucky. After receiving literally hundreds of rejection letters—and developing an extremely 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 book, "Madame Curie and her Daughters: The Private Lives of Science’s First Family," that was published by Palgrave Macmillan on August 21, 2012. Thankfully, the book was a success. But what was next?

    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 selfless person who believed that doing for others was the true path to happiness.

    All this leads me to "Forgotten Hero," and perhaps the book that has meant the most to me. After meeting with Folke Bernadotte's two sons, as well as Holocaust survivors, I realized that this may be the most important biography I'll ever write. Why? Because there are so few survivors and veterans still alive. It's a story that needs to be told because the world can never forget.

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