I spent my childhood on a farm in north central Missouri. It was there that I developed a love of nature, which has always been my greatest source of inspiration.
I caught the creative bug early. As soon as I knew how to write, I was putting stories and poems to paper. I learned the flute at Catholic school and began playing in the parish folk group in the 6th grade. Throughout high school, I was a brainy music geek with a passion for writing—prose, poetry and musical snippets—that I was too self-conscious to share. The first draft of The Beggars’ Queen took shape in the tree house and the library at Moberly High School.
In 1992 I began studying music at the University of Missouri with Steve Geibel. Over the next 5 years I developed relative pitch (I call it imperfect pitch) and trained my ear—a critical skill for a composer. But it was not until I joined the Newman Center choir in 1995 that I found my calling. That fall, I met my husband Christian, and I learned a whole new style of church music. Shortly after, I began writing music in earnest. I did my masters work at the University of Northern Iowa with Angeleita Floyd. Without a car and without Christian, I didn’t have much of a social life, so I spent my time composing and rewriting The Beggars’ Queen.
Christian and I were married in the fall of 1999. I worked for five years in liturgical music; three of those years were also spent battling infertility. During my first pregnancy, I started the Long Ridge Breaking Into Print course. Shortly after Alex was born in 2005, I had my first acceptances—on the music front, works for flute and piano and songs for assembly and choir; on the prose side, The Beggars’ Queen.
Life changed again in 2007 when Julianna was born with Down syndrome. These days, writing takes turns with therapies, play dates, choir directorship and house work. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The written word, the sung note, should make the world a better place—not reflect the cynicism of the times, but hold up a better ideal. This doesn’t mean pretending that ugliness doesn’t exist. The best writing acknowledges the reality of the world in which we live without enshrining it as inevitable or desirable.
There are two problems in literature:
1) In secular literature: religious people are, almost without exception, portrayed as villains or at least hypocrites. But this is not a reflection of the true faith. Get involved in any church and you will find bitter, angry people—but you will also find people of quiet, deep faith, people who follow St. Francis’ admonishment: “preach always; when necessary, use words.” These are the true followers of Christ.
2) In Christian literature: the writing tends to be very preachy. It moralizes; it tells instead of showing. It lives up to the stereotype of the “religious right,” when in reality, the Gospel flies in the face of both liberal and conservative politics.
My goal in writing is to find a balance between these two extremes.