My love for classical music started with the piano. I took my first lesson at the age of ten, and two years later I performed several pieces by Bach in a statewide competition. Since then, my admiration for Bach's music has only intensified. I grew up in Los Angeles, California, and my bedroom was furnished with a mattress, a record player, two shelves lined with my father's classical music collection, a small desk, and a monolithic upright piano that my parents purchased from a neighbor for fifty dollars. Most mornings before going to school, my brother and I fought over who got to practice. Fortunately, we were drawn to different styles of music. He preferred Beethoven and Liszt. I turned to Bach and Mozart.
Not surprisingly, music has remained an important part of my everyday life. I continued my studies of classical music in college, receiving a bachelor's degree in music as well as English. I performed regularly as both a soloist and a chamber player throughout college and graduate school.
My passion for books started in the bookstore around the corner from my parent's house. It was a small and somewhat dusty place back then, but I loved looking at the shelves filled with books of different sizes and colors—running my finger along the bindings and buying inexpensive paperbacks when I had enough money. I reserved a special place for them on the desk in my room. I didn't just want to read them. I wanted to have them—to look at them again and again, to share them with friends, to see them as part of my life. Like the posters and pictures on my walls, I liked having my books in plain sight.
I still do.
As a writer and reader, I'm drawn to characters that struggle with the past to better understand the present. Night Visions started with this type of character. Samantha Ranvali wrestles with her own history of love and loss, friendship and betrayal, accomplishment and regret. In many ways, she confronts these things to reconcile herself with past choices. She ultimately believes that the past holds the key to her ability to sleep.
In 2001, I received a Ph.D. in literature from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. I currently live on the Central Coast in California, where I continue to teach both literature and music.