As a student and as a professional, I’ve read broadly and deeply, and I have a variety of interests. Here are a few of my favorite subjects and genres.
Areas of Expertise
I graduated from Bryn Mawr College with an Artium Baccalaureus in religion. My undergraduate thesis was on the Gospel of Mark, and I focused on women in the early church and the New Testament. I also studied Gnosticism, Anabaptists, and Jewish mysticism. I am, generally speaking, more interested in religious texts than religious practice, but I am reasonably knowledgeable in both for a fairly wide range of faiths. Please note that I tend to side with the heretics, the disssenters, and the outsiders.
My interest in myth began—as it often does—with Greece. By adolescence, I had developed an interest in Celtic gods and goddesses. My explorations into Norse mythology intensified when I discovered that my thirty-first-great-grandfather was a Norwegian polar bear. I’m serious about this stuff, and if I work with you on a myth-infused manuscript, you can count on me to steer you away from Joseph Campbell and New Age syncretism and into barely-charted depths.
Anyone who studies religion and myth is going to stumble into folklore eventually, and folklore has been a focus of my work as a graduate student. I am more knowledgeable about North Atlantic folklore than anything else, but my searches for weird variants have taken me to the United States, India, and elsewhere. I know a lot about selkies, and more than a little about fairies. If your fiction relies upon folkloric figures, I can certainly help you make them authentic.
I’m interested in the ways in which contemporary women draw spiritual sustenance from ancient goddesses and traditional practices. I’m also interested in using concepts like shamanic journeys and mystery rites in crafting fiction.
I don’t much care for horror, but I love Gothic. I love it in its earliest manifestations in the eighteenth century and I love many contemporary iterations. Gothic is a topic on which I have taught and written extensively. Please note: The explained supernatural makes me cranky; I want my ghosts to be real.
There’s probable no other genre in which I have read more widely, and it will always be my first love. That said, I prefer intimacy over grandeur. Although I have enjoyed George R.R. Martin immensely, Ursula K. LeGuin has my heart, and The Once and Future King will always be my very favorite book. And, while I adored The Hobbit in adolescence and even more in middle age, The Lord of the Rings puts me to sleep. I say this not to start a riot, but merely to hint at what you might expect from me as an editor working with your fantasy manuscript.
I'm quite confident that I've learned more about history from historical fiction than from works purporting to offer a more authoritative kind of truth. This is, I suppose, because I’m interested in the human side of history. The big picture is only important to me because of what it means to individual lives, I admire authors who make the past strange and familiar at the same time, and I abhor an anachronism.
I don’t care at all about contemporary romance. If the main goal of a novel is the union between a man and a woman I might meet at the supermarket, I’m not interested. But put those characters in kilts or farthingales, and I’m hooked. Call it a weakness. I don’t care.
I may be the world’s leading academic expert on selkies in paranormal romance. Is this because I’m the only academic writer ever to take an interest in selkies in paranormal romance? Possibly, but let's not dwell on that. My point is that I’m a sucker for a romance with a weird twist. I’m happy to work with you if you’ve got vampires or werewolves, but I’m going to push you to differentiate your monsters from those that have come before. Working with fairies? I will make you read folktales and ballads. If your heroine, your hero, or your antagonist is a creature long-known to folklore but new to contemporary fiction, I want very, very much to work with you. This includes strange beasts, but also gods and goddesses previously unexplored in contemporary fiction.