"Reading novels is a deep and singular pleasure, a gripping and mysterious human activity that does not require any more moral or political justification than sex." - Jean Rhys

Ah. Writing them, as well. There are easier things to do, more financially rewarding activities, time-passers your friends and family can better understand...yet if one is a writer, one must write. There is no choice, really. I began writing fairy tales as soon as I could hold a pencil, wrote soliloquies in high school; the only part of my college education I enjoyed was the papers I wrote. I held most of the traditional jobs of the young writer: waitress, filing clerk, hotel maid. And in the evenings or early mornings or Sunday afternoons, I wrote. I became a college text book buyer, an arts columnist for a weekly paper, a consumer advocacy research reporter for a university. And I kept working on fiction. I taught writing at the undergraduate and graduate level, at the remedial and the 'Damn, I wish I wrote that' level. I hope that on my last day on earth, whatever else it involves, I'll still be holding that pencil. I live by stories. I want to give some back.

on writing A Lady of Good Family...
I first began gardening so that I would have something to talk about with my green-thumbed mother-in-law. Little did I realize what an obsession the garden becomes! Many years, rose bushes, geranium beds and Japanese beetles later, while I was again on my knees digging in the dirt, I realized the garden is more than a decoration for the home or town. It connects us with the past and the future, with other people's aesthetics and needs as well as our own. When I began my research for A Lady of Good Family, about professional gardener Beatrix Farrand, I found miracles of connection between gardens and literature; how the past haunts us, and how the future can be so beautifully represented by a single seed.

Jeanne Mackin is the author of several historical novels: The Sweet By and By (St. Martinís Press), based on the life of nineteenth century spiritualist Maggie Fox; Dreams of Empire (Kensington Books), a domestic comedy set in Napoleonic Egypt, The Queenís War (St. Martinís Press) a novel about Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Courts of Love, and The Frenchwoman (St. Martinís Press), a romance set in revolutionary France and the Pennsylvania wilderness. Writing as Anna Maclean she is author of the Louisa May Alcott mystery trilogy (NAL). She is also the author of the Cornell Book of Herbs and Edible Flowers (Cornell University publications) and co-editor of The Norton Book of Love (W.W. Norton.)She was the recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society and her journalism has won awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, in Washington, D.C.

She taught creative writing at Goddard College in Vermont, and has taught or conducted workshops in Pennsylvania, Hawaii and New York. She lives with her husband, artist and writer Steve Poleskie, in upstate New York.