I grew up in Twin Falls, Idaho and had a wonderful father, a quiet and gentle man who gave me early encouragement.  He would stop dinner and get a dictionary if a word came up that we didn’t know.  He was a linotype operator, had owned a small newspaper before we came to Twin Falls, and wrote a column for it called “Fox Tales.”  Once I saw a picture of a gold miner in a magazine; I told my father I was going to write a story about this miner.  He laughed with pleasure.  This made me feel I could write that story and I did.  Later I would ride the Greyhound to Berkeley and always played the nickel slots in Jackpot during rest stops. The crowd in Jackpot   was so different from my studious young woman persona. I felt more alive around them. Open, approachable, they seemed to enjoy themselves, while I was always on the straight and narrow to get my education.  One girl about my age told me she wanted to be a bartender.  This startled me. I had never heard of such a career ambition before. Jackpot always had some kind of electricity for me.

I went to the University of Idaho to study music, then transferred to UC Berkeley for a B.A. in English, and later, an M.A. in English at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.  My stories have appeared in Passages North, Bat City Review, and others.  My reviews appeared in the L.A. Reader, the LA Weekly and the L.A. Times.  A former president of the L.A. Drama Critics Circle, I taught literature and composition at Pasadena City College, Glendale College and others.  I was nominated for a Pushcart, short-listed for the 2002/2003 Fish Publishing Short Story Contest and was a finalist for the 2001 James Kirkwood Prize through the UCLA Writers’ Program.

I wrote one novel and put it away.  I didn’t know how to go beyond the obvious.  I had a strong desire to take this wacky workshop at UCLA, “Master Sequence in Magic, Surrealism, and the Absurd.”  The instructor had us pick a random page and sentence from a random book.  That sentence became the opening sentence for the story due the following week.  I was set free! As for characters, we were to briefly describe a character and pass it to the left.  The one I got was a female parking attendant.  I couldn’t identify with that, so I made her a female crossing guard.  And that’s how Clara was born, totally random, from a far deeper place in my subconscious than I ever would have guessed.  And she stayed with me for twelve years and by now is a member of the family.  My husband and I often talk about her, make little jokes.  I don’t know how you can make a character like Clara who has inadvertently hurt the people she loves with all her heart.  You must categorically do something to stay alive and so you refuse to fall.

You stand.

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