For the first five decades of my life, I had little interest in and no understanding of the U.S. military. When I was 56, my son joined the Marine Corps and it changed my life as well as his.
I took a break from frustrated research on the artist Pan Yuliang and art and modern politics in modern China to write adventure fiction titled Operation Restore America about a Marine Corps invasion of the Bronx in response to a nuclear threat by a Colombian drug dealer turned arms trader. My son helped with urban combat information. Everything in the novel is factual with the exception of the actual threat to New York and the Marine landing to thwart it.
I joined my son on a float (a Marine Corps tour of duty on a convoy of U.S. Navy ships) aboard the USS Tripoli returning from the Middle East. It was the first year military women were assigned to floats and I was the first woman relative of an enlisted man allowed aboard a Tiger Cruise. I was hooked.
I began another novel when I learned about CBIRF- the Marine Corps Chemical Biological Incidence Response Force, the first such force in our military. I connected with CBIRF and then attended warfighting exercises in 1998 in Monterey, California where I was in a fire aboard a CH46 helicopter on the USS Bonhomme Richard and learned firsthand about quick response. The novel, titled Operation Homeland Terror was about a chemical attack in Washington, DC. Finished in 2000, it struck publishers as implausible and off the wall; after 9/11 it was prescient and tame. It remains unpublished.
In the ensuing war against terrorism, Operation Iraqi Freedom, I saw the increased importance of women Marines, and in 2005, I was vetted by the army to embed with the 1st MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) in Fallujah, Iraq, to personally interview women Marine officers and enlisted personnel for a non-fiction book. The Few. The Proud. Women Marines in Harm's Way. Praeger Security International, 2007 is available at Amazon.
My career has been in arts administration, including founding and directing the Santa Fe Festival of the Arts in the 1970s, and associate directorship of the Leanin' Tree Museum of Western Art for fifteen years. My interest in history and current affairs merged in documenting the extensive change, over the past 50 years, in women's lives as artists and as warriors, two opposite and intense pursuits.
Born and raised in Oak Park, Illinois, I attended Colorado College, receiving a bachelor's degree in Fine Art and Art History. Chinese studies were precluded by the McCarthyism of the '50s. In 1979 China was opened to the US and I did graduate work in Chinese language, history, political economy, and socialist politics at the University of Colorado, the University of Wisconsin, and University of Denver Graduate School of International Studies.