For many years I worked as a freelance journalist in the US and while living overseas in London, Moscow, and Geneva, Switzerland before turning to writing fiction full time. My last job as a stringer was as a regional feature writer for The Washington Post, covering many of the places where my wine country mysteries are set.
In the late 1980s, I worked for ABC Radio News as their Moscow correspondent, and over the years have written feature stories for such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Journal newspapers, the Washington, D.C. area’s largest suburban newspaper (now called the Washington Enquirer).
Prior to working as a journalist, I was an economist at the United States Senate. I have a master’s degree in international relations from The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and a B.A. in political science from The Catholic University of America. I spent my junior year of undergraduate school in Madrid, Spain and did a semester of graduate studies in Bologna, Italy.
I am fairly fluent in French and Spanish and speak a smattering of Russian (I can count to ten and say “I don’t understand” like a native speaker). I remember less Italian than I believe I do, and it has gotten me into trouble.
I was born in Boston, Massachusetts but grew up mostly in Connecticut, after detours to Alabama and Pennsylvania. I now live with my family in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.
While living in London in the ’90s, I wrote my first novel, Moscow Nights, (Piatkus Books, 2000) which was published in the UK and was based on my experiences in the former Soviet Union during the waning days of the Gorbachev era. It is now available in the US, published as an e-book and in print by Speaking Volumes.
Back home in the US, I wrote six books in the Virginia wine country mystery series published in hardcover by Scribner and paperback by Pocket Books: The Merlot Murders, The Chardonnay Charade, The Bordeaux Betrayal, The Riesling Retribution, The Viognier Vendetta (published in paperback as The Vintage Vendetta), and The Sauvignon Secret. Set near Middleburg, Virginia in the heart of horse and hunt country, the series chronicles the life of Lucie Montgomery, a young woman who has inherited her family’s vineyard along with a somewhat cantankerous winemaker named Quinn Santori whom her father hired shortly before his death. The research for these books can hardly be considered work and I had the good fortune to learn about the process of growing grapes and making wine from two amazing winemakers: the late Juanita Swedenburg of Swedenburg Estate Vineyard (now Greenhill Winery and Vineyards) in Middleburg and Rick Tagg of Delaplane Winery in Delaplane. The 7th and most recent wine country mystery, The Champagne Conspiracy, will be out on November 1, 2016 from Minotaur Books; an 8th book in the series will be published in 2017.
I have also written two books about international photojournalist Sophie Medina, who returns to Washington after living and working in London for many years. In Multiple Exposure Sophie becomes embroiled in an international search for her CIA operative husband after he was supposedly kidnapped, but later is spotted in Russia and accused of murder. In Ghost Image, the death of a friend who is a controversial environmentalist and also a Franciscan friar sends Sophie on an international search for a botanic treasure potentially worth millions as she also tries to find a murderer.
When I’m not writing—which, according to my husband, is what I do most of the time—I love entertaining family and friends (my husband is French and therefore a wonderful cook, so you always eat when you visit us) and enjoy traveling—anywhere—to satisfy my perpetual wanderlust. I have accumulated numerous hobbies over the decades—amateur photographer, lapsed quilter, watercolor dabbler, rusty pianist—and what I lack in talent I make up for in enthusiasm.