aka Alexa Hunt.

Working my way through college provided great life experiences for a novelist. One problem. I didn’t know I was destined to write books. Instead, I floundered around during and after receiving my B.A. and M.A. in history from the University of Missouri. None of my wide variety of jobs satisfied me: cashier for a loan company, public welfare caseworker, assistant circulation manager for a small daily, editor for several “house organ” newspapers, administrator of a federal information program for the elderly.

Finally I was offered the opportunity to use my history degrees, teaching in a large urban university in the Northeast. I truly enjoyed it. Unfortunately, when the history requirement was dropped for incoming students, so was my instructorship. After that I taught gerontology, sociology, proposal writing for social service agencies and freshman composition at the same university. Further life experiences. My last two years of teaching were in remedial English—just the nudge I needed to take this writing thing seriously.

Since childhood I’ve been an avid reader, everything from Robert Heinlein’s sci-fi adventures to Frank Yerby’s historical romantic sagas. More recently I became hooked on thrillers. Since childhood I had story ideas in my head, but never the epiphany to write them. Okay, maybe I just didn’t have the courage. But there were just so many times I could explain what a verb was to a college senior before I realized that maybe writing a book might be easier. I sold my first novel, a big historical romance titled GOLDEN LADY, to Warner Books in 1985. Within two years, I quit remedial comp. Now I can't imagine doing anything but writing for a living. In 2005 I switched over to the “dark side.” Tor published two political thrillers, CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY and HOMELAND SECURITY under the pseudonym Alexa Hunt. I’ve also written romantic suspense for Penguin Onyx and Silhouette Bombshell as Shirl Henke. Since I began my career, I’ve appeared on the USA TODAY bestseller list, been a RITA Finalist twice, received a BookraK Bestseller Award, and won three Career Achievement Awards, an Industry Award and three Reviewers Choice Awards from Romantic Times.

My husband Jim Henke is a former cabdriver, bartender, sailor, judo instructor and English professor. He's a scholarly authority on obscene slang and a master at its use, but an astonishingly understanding man who puts up with my all-night writing sprees and sudden dashes to my desk to jot down bits of dialogue as dinner burns on the stove. Since he took early retirement from academe, he has helped me brainstorm plots and research my novels.

After four years in the U.S. Air Force, our son Matt works in telecommunications and lives in an adjacent county with his brute of a cat, Max. Jim and I now share our cedar house in the woods with a pair of utterly adorable tomcats, Inky and Pewter, whose destructive capacity rivals that of a medium sized thermonuclear weapon. But just as life without writing would be unimaginable, so would life without cats.

For therapy when I'm not at the computer or off researching a new book, I cook large dinners for our extended family, putter in my garden and greenhouse, and still read voraciously. When deadlines permit, I love to travel. I'm a member of the Author's Guild, Romance Writers of America, Missouri Romance Writers, Sisters in Crime, Novelists Inc. and International Thriller Writers

I wrote my first twenty-two novels in longhand with a ball-point pen—it's hard to get good quills these days. Dragged into the 21st century, I now use one of those "devil machines. Another troglodyte bites the dust