I’m a mild-mannered civil servant by day.
The adventures I write in my off-hours contain a number of elements that reflect my work and personal experiences.
Martial Arts and Reasonable Force
I first practiced judo at 14. During law school, it was the perfect antidote to academic stress.
As a teenager, I saw a TV movie about the Guardian Angels, and filed away the urge to be that kind of hero.
In 1995, I joined the Seattle Q-Safety Patrol, which operated the city’s Guardian Angels chapter. Two years of volunteering as an anti-violence patroller taught me a great deal about myself, teamwork, and reasonable force.
Looking for a good workout that builds in some solid self-defense training, I have tried out judo, karate, kung fu, muy thai, Brazilian ju-jitsu, MMA, Bartitsu, krav maga, and Aikido. More recently I have found my training home in DanZanRyu Jujitsu (a martial and healing art).
In both fictional series, the main characters use their martial arts training to protect others.
In the steampunk Mosaic world, mostly Bartitsu is used.
In the Maji Rios novels, some of the characters have Army combatives training. Maji and her non-military friends are trained in a blend of arts (skewed towards ju-jitsu and krav maga, and incorporating parkour) intended for self-defense and protecting others using reasonable force.
Part of the fun of bringing characters together with different training and perspectives on violence and force is seeing what happens when they interact with each other under stress (verbally and physically).
Ecology and Sustainable Technology
Fifteen years of my career has been as an environmental professional.
My work included researching and promoting more sustainable design approaches and practices (such as renewable energy, alternative transportation, the redevelopment of contaminated properties, sustainable agriculture, and green building).
Being set on the cusp of the Industrial Revolution, the cultural conflicts in the Mosaic series stem in large part from the tensions of the economic shift – mass production’s effects on the British classes, increased consumer demands and American slavery, European imperialism and the natural resources of Asia and Africa.
These forces are brought into human scale by dropping two British nobles and four Americans (two Southerners and two Yankees) into the change resistant fictional political capital of the Confederacion Mediterraneo. There they encounter solar-powered trains, wave-powered sail lofts, composting toilets, early editions of battery storage and electrical lighting, straw-bale buildings, community gardens, and (gasp) an egalitarian economic system. And a culture that cherishes artisans, re-making old treasures into new, and the ability of each individual to live a hand-crafted life.
In the Maji Rios stories, ecological choices are sprinkled in as they fit the characters. Maji has an electric motorcycle (way cooler than mine), while Rose studies how indigenous communities hang onto key parts of their cultures through traditional foods. Together they shop the local farmers market, while other characters take the Hummer to the golf course.
Gender and Sexuality
I’ve been out as a bi woman since the 1980’s. I’m comfortable with the body I was born with, but not the cultural and legal baggage that keeps dragging along after it.
My wife and I have been married three times – once by our friends and family, once by Canada, and once by the state we lived in. We’re looking forward to a time when everyone has the rights and protections we enjoy today. *Update – marriage equality finally reached the US in June of 2015. (Thanks, Supremes!)*
My characters reflect the diversity of the people I have known in real life – straight, gay, lesbian, bi, transgender, asexual, and just plain not-labelable; monogamous, adulterous, and polyamorous; male-identified, female-identified, androgynous, gender-fluid; xx, xy and intersex.