About me

I am a borderer.  I didn’t know it for a long time, but I did know that I was an outsider in the world I grew up in.  It was only as an adult that I began to understand who and what had been excluded from my life, and to look for ways to reconnect.

Curiosity—the need to look at things closely and understand how they came to be the way they are—has been a major impulse in my adult life.  In particular, I have been curious about people and communities, and about the forces that shape them.  Curiosity has been central to my various careers, as a family mediator, court investigator, and the director of an education-related non-profit.  It has also led me into long-lasting preoccupations with subjects as diverse as Shakespeare, meteorites, and the ways in which parents raise their children to be successful learners.  Fourteen years ago, a small spark of curiosity about the source of the dark curly hair and dark eyes in my German-English family led me into a search for my most obscure set of ancestors, a search that opened so many doors into forgotten corners of American history that it became a ruling passion and, eventually, a book.

I am a storyteller, drawing on the work of many historians in order to paint my characters in the context of their world.  It is my hope that their stories can give readers a picture of a few of the events and institutions that have contributed to making all of us who we are.