~ Bio ~
I've worked for over 30 years as a freelance writer, researcher, and editor, covering topics ranging from notorious trials to popular music and the American West.
I was born in 1953, raised in Hamden and Cheshire, Connecticut, and graduated from Drew University in 1975 with a BA in English Literature after also studying at Elmira College and the University of Exeter UK. In 1977 I earned an MA degree in American Literature from Southern Connecticut State University, where my graduate work included a research assistantship preparing a proposed course in immigrant literature. After graduation, I worked as a courier for the weekly Boston Phoenix and began freelancing for local magazines.
A 1978 visit to New Orleans inspired me to relocate there to study the culture and music. I left in 1979, but like anyone who lets New Orleans permanently into his or her bloodstream, I've continued to return as frequently as possible ever since. I freelanced for various publications over the next ten years while moving between CT, MA, LA, and Leicester, England. I was an associate writer for New England’s Advocate newspaper chain, interviewing some of America’s greatest musicians and writing about everything from folk holidays and travel books to Japanese American internment and European nuclear disarmament.
In 1989 I began concentrating on contributions to non-fiction book projects, particularly those involving notable trials. These include Great American Trials (Visible Ink Press, 1993, and the expanded 2001 Thomson Gale edition); Great World Trials (Visible Ink, 1997); Sex, Sin & Mayhem: Notorious Trials of the 1990s (Visible Ink Press, 1995); and Exploring Law & Society, a Gale Research U.S. Supreme Court database series (1997). I also contributed to Famous First Facts About the Environment (H. W. Wilson, 2002) and The American West (John Wiley, 2003).
In 2003 I wrote Discovery of the Americas 1492-1800 about the first years of the "Columbian Exchange," when encounters between European and Native American societies began to dramatically change world history. The book is part of Facts On File's 10-volume Discovery & Exploration series, designed for middle school and older readers (Chelsea House published an edition revised for grades 5-8 in 2009). I also wrote "Muslim Travelers of the Middle Ages" for Exploration in the World of the Middle Ages 500-1500 in the same series.
The Crescent City Lynchings, published by Lyons Press in 2007, is the result of years of intensive research into the 1891 lynching of eleven Italians and Italian Americans accused of the mysterious murder of New Orleans’ chief of police, David Hennessy.
My other jobs over time include long stints as a professional musician, justice of the peace, and assistant registrar of voters, as well as shorter experiences as assistant fine arts appraiser, auction runner, and a long list of minimum wage manual labor jobs in New Orleans and Boston.