As a kid in the suburbs of Chicago, I remember bringing a backpack to the library every two weeks during the summer and filling it to the brim. My favorites were Baby-Sitters Club, Nancy Drew, and the Thoroughbred series. I wrote a lot of stories too. My mom helped me type and add computer graphics to one called How Mary Ann Got Lost at the Zoo. (Spoiler alert: it has a happy ending. Dark turns didn’t make their way into my writing until adulthood!) When I was eight or nine, I went through a serious horse phase—I was in the ninetieth percentile for height but convinced I would someday be a jockey—and wrote a 100-page book about them that thankfully never saw the light of day. But the older I got, the less creative writing I did. I’ve always wanted to write fiction, but doing it as a kid for fun was one thing; considering it as a profession was another. Being an author just didn’t seem like a realistic or practical career choice.
After college I worked as a copywriter, then associate creative director, for advertising agencies in Chicago. During this time, I wrote and helped produce television and radio spots, print ads, billboards, and digital campaigns for brands like Coors, McDonald’s, and Capital One.
In 2014 I moved to London, so my partner could attend business school. A year later, while I was between freelance copywriting jobs and in a rut, I applied to graduate schools for creative writing. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.
I moved to Boston to attend Emerson College in 2016. Before grad school, I would come up with a book idea, write a chapter or two, then give up. The MFA program made me take writing seriously for the first time. I had my first short story published in the Bellevue Literary Review and accrued 221 rejections for all the other stories I wrote and submitted. (It pains me to report that number is not an exaggeration.) By the end of the program, I’d finished my first novel, about a mother and daughter named Patty and Rose Gold Watts.
Darling Rose Gold was published in March 2020, hitting the Sunday Times, USA Today, and Globe and Mail bestseller lists. The book has sold in twenty-one countries and was a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, the Barry Award for Best First Novel, and the Macavity Award for Best First Novel. My second book, This Might Hurt, published in 2022.
- Nonfiction Books to Read While Researching and Writing About Cults (essay) – CrimeReads, February 2022
- 3 Things Writers Should Know About Cults (essay) – Writer’s Digest, February 2022
- How to Write Perfect Twist Endings (essay) – CrimeReads, March 2020
- The Tribulations of Uncle Ned (short story) – Bellevue Literary Review, Fall 2017