I grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois. I have three younger siblings, and used to tell them an awful lot of lies when they were growing up. The best thing about being a writer is that now I can say that my lies were all in the name of literary creativity. Unfortunately, my brothers and sister don’t believe me.
I went to the University of Iowa and majored in English. Although I insisted on wearing a coat that was held together by safety pins, I somehow survived all those snowy winters.
After graduation, I thought it would be a good idea to move to Moscow. Three months later, I hopped on a plane to Prague. I lived there for about half a year, and loved almost every minute of it.
In 2000, I became a graduate student in the English department at Harvard University, where I read many books that were so beautiful that I cried and laughed and raged.
I received my Ph.D. in June 2006, and that summer feverishly began to write The Cabinet of Wonders. This novel was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in August 2008.
These days, I live in New York City—which, when I was a child, seemed just about as fantastical as Narnia. I’m married to an economist who doesn’t know that I nearly failed economics in high school. But guess what? Despite this bad grade (and some others) on my record, I still got a job. I’m a professor at Brooklyn College, where I teach Renaissance drama, children’s literature, and creative writing.
I’m currently working on the sequel to The Cabinet of Wonders (and the book after that, and the book after that one). But I run into trouble sometimes with my black cat Sophie, who likes to sit on my computer and isn’t afraid to use her claws.