I was born in August 1977 in Dallas, Texas, a town famous for cattle and cowboys. My family on my father’s side has lived in the area since the 1830s, when Texas was still part of Mexico. I was two when I received my first pair of cowboy boots, and they weren’t just for show. Both of my grandfathers owned cattle ranches, where I spent many a happy summer day, mending fences, watching cattle, or simply wandering in the woods, a stick in hand in lieu of a sword, pretending I was in some distant age.
I was eleven years old and home from school sick when my grandfather gave me an old, tattered copy of C.S. Forster’s Mr. Midshipman Hornblower—my first taste of historical fiction. I finished the entire series in under a month, and thus began a love of historical fiction that has lasted to this day. I decided that someday I would like to write these sorts of books, even though I had a sneaking suspicion that writing was not a very realistic profession.
I studied history at university, and after graduating, I worked a variety of odds jobs to support my writing habit: waiting tables, working at a talent agency, clerking for a law firm, and making wine in the high desert of Colorado. Eventually, I gave all that up to pursue a doctoral degree in history and to write novels. My academic writing explores the historical limits of self-understanding, and I must say, fiction has provided a blessed relief from it. I had a delightful and sometimes surprising time writing SIEGE and EAGLE. I particularly enjoy writing dialogue: my characters often say things that shock me. How many times have I wished that I could invent dialogue for my academic writing!
I recently received my PhD in history for the University of Chicago, and with that in hand, I’m hard at work on my third novel and looking forward to many more to come.