I was born on the west coast, grew up near the east coast, and now live smack dab in the middle in the country. I work as a history professor at a small university in Illinois, and live with my husband, three kids, two cats, and a lovable Westie named Chewie. And while I like to imagine myself as a noble elven warrior, I'm really just a hobbit at heart. I like eating and drinking. A cozy fire. And reading---lots and lots of reading. My current favorite authors include John Green, R.J. Palacio, Louise Penny, and of course, J.K. Rowling. But the stories that truly shaped me are the ones I read (and reread!) as a kid, especially C.S. Lewis's Narnia stories, J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. These stories remind us that our humdrum world is far more mysterious, magical, and wonderfully made than we realize. That sense of wonder is what I hope to evoke in my own work

Before turning to novels, I wrote a syndicated newspaper column called "History in the Movies." My work appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Providence Journal, and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. If you like history and film, my collected columns can be found here.