I had what I would call a normal, happy childhood, even though my dad died when I was a baby. My brother and I were raised by my mom and grandmother, and we had a close-knit and loving extended family. I have fond memories of holiday gatherings when we would play games like “Spoon” around a large dining room table at my aunt’s house.
I was a B student, for the most part. I studied hard at the subjects I loved best (English and History) and I did as little as I could get by with in the subjects that didn’t interest me much (Science). I went through a rebellious period in high school. I wanted to be a hippy but didn’t have the courage, to be honest. I never tried drugs; they frightened me. But I did do a few other dumb teenager-type things.
My family always went to church, but the mainstream Christian church we attended was more of a social religious experience. Truth was there in its long-ago founded doctrines, but that truth was hard to find in the church it had become. So while I believed in God, I didn’t know I could know Him. He was distant, up in heaven, like my grandmother.
Perhaps because I grew up without a dad and was surrounded by mostly women, I didn’t aspire to any sort of career after high school. More than anything, I wanted to marry and be a mommy. So that’s exactly what I did. As it turned out for the career I would one day have, that was the best thing that could happen to me. I lived life. I experienced people. I met heartache face-to-face. I developed empathy, one of the most critical tools for a novelist (to have the ability to put oneself, in heart and mind, into someone’s shoes and understand what they think and feel).
My voracious reading habits grew ever more so. I gobbled up books. Historical sagas and romances for the most part, but also history books and biographies/autobiographies and memoirs. I was learning a lot about writing during this time, although I certainly didn’t think of it as a learning period. I thought I was simply escaping into wonderful stories of love and adventure.