Biography: Bridging two worlds

 
 

I always seem to bridge two worlds. I was named after Jane Eyre, thus dooming me to a lifelong love of Victorian fiction and a passionate interest in a lost world while Britain got on with modernizing itself. I was born at the very tail end of the 1950s, so my formative teen years were the 70s (strikes, recessions, socialism, shortages, and hippies), while I grew into adulthood in the 80s (privatization, big hair, power suits and Greed is Good). I attended a school where just about everyone went to university, but refused to follow the herd as nobody could suggest anything but teaching as a graduate career. By the 80s, as a very young adult, I was already an expatriate, living in Belgium and dividing my days between French and English. I worked in administrative positions in the European Communities but always seemed to be the one promoted to tasks above my pay grade when they ran out of headcount.


By the mid-80s I’d given in to the lure of a degree and studied English law while working in Brussels-based, mostly American law firms (I also studied Belgian and European Community law but ironically had no interest in America). During this period I worked as a committee reporter for the American chamber of commerce, an editorial assistant for an armaments magazine, a translator for an aerospace magazine, an editor in a Belgian law firm (where I also translated affidavits and wrote articles for the partners), and an associate in a small legal and tax company where I learned to draft contracts and schmooze local bureaucrats.


I was having fun in Belgium but life took me to Chicagoland, where I embarked on a career in real estate marketing while pursuing my master’s degree, which re-ignited my love of nineteenth-century literature after several years of reading genre fiction. (Not that this was a step up; many well-known Victorian novels were the genre fiction of their day.) By the time the real estate market collapsed, I had moved on out of sheer boredom and was writing fundraising appeals.


At some point in 2009 came the fateful day when I began work on my first novel (currently languishing on a hard drive). I realized I’d found a way to never be bored again, and a career where I could put all my writing and work experience to use. Like many people who rode the wave of purges and pink slips in 2008, I wanted to be my own boss, and indie publishing was the best model for me. I’ve never regretted that decision; my first published novel appeared in 2012 under my own imprint, Aspidistra Press.


I have a private life, of course, with hobbies and family and sports and all the rest, but I don’t write about it much. The one achievement I will mention is my black belt in shotokan karate, obtained at the grand old age of 48. I still refuse to hit my milestones in the proper order, you see.

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