The Scorpion's Bite
Writing is my third career. As a wife and mother of four sons, I did all the traditional things: driving my sons to baseball games and swimming meets, car pooling, acting as den mother, going to PTA meetings, until the family moved to Jerusalem for two and a half years while my husband, a biochemist, did research.
They say that you cannot go to Jerusalem without changing your life. The mystique of Jerusalem is overwhelming. It is the focal point of three major religions. Simple people who have never seen running water before walk along the same street as Nobel Prize winners. The dazzling architecture looks like a movie set and everyone seems to be dressed in costume. You can’t dig in your garden or plant a daffodil without finding a bit of a Roman column, an ancient Judean bowl.
So when my family returned to the U.S., I went back to school to study anthropology and archaeology. After my husband died, with the help of fellowships from the Danforth Foundation and the National Science Foundation, I was able to receive a Ph.D. in archaeology/ anthropology.
I taught for twenty years in the Department of Anthropology at California State University, Fullerton. Many years of archaeological fieldwork took me all over the world, but especially to the Middle East, where I spent a year at the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem as an NEH scholar, and director of the overseas campus of California State Universities at the Hebrew University.
After I retired from Cal State, I taught a few classes in the extension at the University of California at Irvine, where they encourage instructors to take classes in other departments. I opted for writing classes in the extension, since Irvine has a distinguished writing program.
There, they told me to stop everything and start writing. They told me I had a voice, even though I can’t sing a note. They told me to “Write what you know.” And what did I know? I knew archaeology.
For the short story writing class, I wrote a short story, PETRIE’S HEAD which was published in a literary magazine called ZYZZYVA, and earned fifty dollars and a tee shirt. For the mystery class, I started a mystery, A FLY HAS A HUNDRED EYES, about an archaeologist, Lily Sampson who plunges into a labyrinth of intrigue and danger after the murder of the director of her excavation in British mandated Palestine in 1938. It won first place in the mystery category at both the Pikes Peak Writers conference and the SouthWest Writers Conference. It was subsequently published by Academy Chicago, and favorably reviewed in all the right places, including The New York Times.
My second novel in the Lily Sampson series, THE TORCH OF TANGIER, published by Poisoned Pen Press, takes place in Morocco during WWII when Lily is recruited into the OSS to work on the preparations for the Allied invasion of North Africa, Operation Torch. It, too, received favorable reviews in all the right places (but not, alas, The New York Times).
My third mystery, THE GOLD OF THRACE, came out in August 2007 from Poisoned Pen Press. It is a tale of danger and deceit in the antiquities trade.
When the first member of the staff of her Turkish excavation is murdered and a mosaic floor disappears overnight from her site, archaeologist Tamar Saticoy plunges into the shady world of the antiquities trade in her quest to discover who is responsible for the theft of artifacts from archaeological sites. She traces the mosaic floor to Switzerland, where she soon finds herself enmeshed in a tangle of deceit, theft, and forgery. Surrounded by fraud and jeopardy, she discovers that no one is who they seem to be. Two more members of her excavation staff are killed, and Tamar herself becomes the next target for murder.