I always wanted to be a writer but first I was a dreamer and a reader. My taste tended toward great adventures and romance. War and Peace, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Little Women, Nancy Drew mysteries. I fell in love with the heroes in the Frank Yerby and Sidney Sheldon books. I yearned to escape into those worlds and live with adventure and romance. I wanted to write big stories like those. Every night when I went to bed, I dreamed up a story to be continued the next night. There would be previews first, a taste of what was to come.
I read books on writing, attended university classes, and attended workshops. One lesson declared, “write what you know.” Great. I didn’t know anything. Like most teenagers I didn’t want to grow up to be normal like my almost invisible and boring parents and their friends. To be a writer, I must experience adventure and romance so I could write about them.
That’s how I met my six husbands. That’s how I got to ride on the back of a motorcycle and participate in a documentary with the Hell’s Angels. It’s why I chose a bus ride to Canada to see a motorcycle race instead of staying in college. It’s why I became a go-go dancer to support myself and my daughter.
I dreamed of living on the Left Bank of Paris and attending the Sorbonne. I would travel through Europe on a motorcycle with a typewriter in the sidecar and earn my living as a writer, like Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald.
Sadly, I never got to Europe. Spent six months in Mexico, though. Almost got to Canada.
I did want to go to college. My aim was for a small liberal arts college. My parents vetoed that right away. Too close to Camp Pendleton. My parents picked a Lutheran college in Tacoma, Washington where there were relatives to watch over me and I could stay with an aunt.
I met my first husband when I was selling Christmas cards door to door through Junior Achievement. I was seventeen. Mark was twenty-seven, tinkering with his motorcycle with his bohemian, poetry writer friends. Even though he was Jewish, he bought a box of Xmas cards from me. I was in love.
He was the exact opposite of my parents who were horrified and refused to let me see him. I ran away two weeks before my eighteenth birthday when I was supposed to be going to college in Washington. Mark hid me with the leader of the Hell’s Angels, who only agreed because Mark could fix their bikes when they broke down. They kept me in a back room, and told Mark that I couldn’t stay long. They were very nervous and didn’t want to get caught. I didn’t want them in trouble so I went home and told my parents I was ready to go to college. My stepmother took me shopping and bought me a new college wardrobe.
I never did go to that Lutheran college after all. A week before classes were to start, Mark had a race in Canada. I told my aunt who I was staying with that I would see him race, then “I’ll be a good girl and attend college. Please don’t tell my father.” I got on a bus, got as far as Seattle and got cold feet. When I returned to my aunt’s house, my worst fears were realized. She had called my father. Sorry for me, my bags were packed, tuition refunded, and I was put on a bus back to Los Angeles and given a room at the YWCA. No more going home.
I married Mark on the way to a motorcycle race when I was nineteen. I went to all his races, which were run on the same track as the car races, which made it twice as exciting. One time Mark got invited to participate in a documentary with the Hell’s Angels. I rode on the back of Mark’s Vincent Black Shadow. He had the required chain around his waist like the other riders. The chain was supposed to ward off aggressive truck drivers.
I left Mark year later and my father arranged to get the marriage annulled. Shortly afterward when I turned twenty-one, I met Husband No. 2.
Johnny was fifty and looked like Kurt Douglas or Burt Lancaster. He was the character out of the Frank Yerby books. He was exciting and different. He’d been a hard hat diver and demolitions expert and freelanced for oil companies. He knew movie stars, called John Wayne a friend, and even got hired as an extra on Red River. He’d been around the world many times. In France an Arab once emptied his gun at him and missed.
Johnny was half-apache and could drink like no other I’ve seen and still walk straight. I met him in Santa Monica while he was recuperating from a fall off a three story building and fractured both feet. I move in with him and rubbed his feet and nursed him for three years until he could walk without a limp. We lived in Mexico for six months, New York City for a summer, several cities in Florida, then New Jersey. We changed our name a few times also. That’s when I figured out that his ex-wife’s Sicilian brother was in the Mafia, and the mob was hunting him.
Johnny delivered our daughter in a car while we were living in Key West. We were too far from a hospital. My little girl was six months old when we left Johnny and moved to Philadelphia.
I supported my daughter by working as a medical secretary, a waitress, and a go-go dancer. The Flawed Dance became the fictionalized version of those years in the late sixties. In fiction I could be the heroine who fought the bad guys and saved a few lives. Writing was therapeutic and helped me gain greater understanding of who I was.
I met Husband No. 3, a bartender who gave me my wonderful son. After a rocky five years with that husband, I took my son and we left and moved back to California.
Husband No. 4 was a Hawaiian chef who took me to Hawaii where I met his wonderful family and later I gave birth to my beautiful youngest daughter. No. 4 wasn’t so wonderful. He stabbed a leader in the Mexican Mafia and we had to run and hide for a while.
Two husbands followed after I moved to Texas. One was for convenience. The other went to prison for murder. I decided no more marriages. I had my fill of adventure and romance. From then on, I would just write about them.
So you think that after all these experiences I would have material to write. I did, but could not just rehash my experiences on paper. I had enough characters in my head to pick them apart and use them to craft my stories.
Now I watch my children and grandchildren make the same kind of mistakes and I know I can’t help them. But at the same time I learn from them. They introduced me to troubled teens, runaways, parents struggling with their children, and making painful decisions.
From them and for them I write my Niki Alexander mystery series. She’s an ex-cop turned counselor for a teen shelter. She is the champion of the runaways, the throwaways, the ones looking for a different life, seeking adventure and excitement. She knows the dangers they face and she is there for them.
In the first book, Less Dead, Niki has to find an abandoned teenager, who might have witnessed a murder, before the murderer finds her. Lost Witness, the second in the series, deals with a lost little boy caught in the center of drug ring involving two brothers between the border of Texas and Mexico. Both books are available as e-books, print, and audio, and can be found on Amazon, iTunes and Audible.
The third book in the Niki Alexander series is A Matter of Revenge and is due to be released in September from Black Opal Books. This time Niki is faced with two pre-teen, runaway street kids who have taken as their mission to destroy a dangerous pedophile rings a. More to come as the launch date approaches.
The Flawed Dance is currently available on Amazon, b&n.com, Black Opal Books, All Romance Magazine