I was born in Miami, Florida, in 1944. The daughter of an airline pilot, Robert Zentner, my family lived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for five years, then Miami again for a few years before settling in my mother's hometown of Berkeley, California.
In the fall of 1970 I accepted a one-year contract to teach Grade Two in an Inuit village in northern Labrador, Canada—an amazing experience. After, I worked as a book editor for publishers in Toronto.
In 1977 I married Canadian Richard Gulland, manager of a manufacturing company. Daughter Carrie and son Chet were born, and in 1980 we moved to a log cabin near Killaloe (population 600), in northern Ontario, where I started Words &, an editorial and writing service, and my husband started a high-quality outdoor clothing and equipment company. We enrolled the children in a parent-run alternative school and eventually I became volunteer principal.
I handled promotion (and played clown) for the annual Killaloe Craft & Community Fair. Together with a friend, I started a community newsletter, "The Community News & Confuse," circulation 150. All the while I was growing vegetables—or, rather, trying to grow vegetables—raising chickens and pigs, and developing an unruly addiction for horses.
Meanwhile, and always, writing ...
My consuming interest in Josephine Bonaparte and the Napoleonic era was sparked in 1972 when I read a biography of Josephine. Decades of research followed. I began the fictional biography of Josephine in January, 1990. In-depth research required knowledge of French, which I continue to study on an on-going basis. As well, I traveled to France, Italy and Martinique, and consulted with period scholars.
The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B., the first novel in what evolved to be the Josephine B. Trilogy, was published by HarperCollins Canada in May, 1995, to excellent reviews. (Which surprised me.) It was followed in 1998 by Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe and The Last Great Dance on Earth in 2000. The Josephine B. Trilogy has sold over a million worldwide, and has been published in fifteen languages.
Napoleon said that he conquered countries, but that Josephine conquered hearts—and she continues to do so!
In 2000, I began researching and writing a novel set in 17th century France, at the court of Louis XIV, the Sun King. It was a long process.
The story of Louise de la Vallière, the Sun King's mistress, Mistress of the Sun was published by HarperCollins Canada on February 23, 2008, and immediately went onto the bestseller list. It has now been published in seven countries.
My fifth novel, The Shadow Queen, to be published April 8, 2014, is also set in the court of the Sun King. It's a biographical novel about Claude des Oeillets, a woman who, as hand-maid to divas (her mother the theatrical star, and Madame de Montespan, the King's mistress), had an intimate view into three fascinating worlds of the period. The first was the world of the theatre—Corneille! Racine! Molière! The second was the world of the Court of the magnificent Sun King (the father of her daughter, I should add). And, last, but very nearly fatally for her—the world of Black Magic.
I am now writing the first of two Young Adult novels about Josephine's precocious daughter Hortense.
For more on my writing and research, see my blog Notes on the Writing Life.
My Wikipedia page
I use Wikipedia constantly and am pleased to have an entry in it.
The Writers' Union of Canada: my author page
Juggling children, a dog, three cats, pigs, chickens and a succession of horses ...