Stuff about me

This is totally how I look when I’m writing. (Photo by Matt Dine)

I write books and TV pilots, and I used to write magazine articles. Hi!

First, book stuff: my second book—and first novel!—was published in 2013 by Plume, an imprint of Penguin. It’s called “Pastors’ Wives.” Please click here for the scoop on what it’s about, where you can buy it and the story behind the story. Gretchen Rubin, the bestselling author of “The Happiness Project,” says, “Once you pick up this novel, you won’t be able to put it down.” That’s an endorsement! My first book, “Remember Me: A Lively Tour of the New American Way of Death” (HarperCollins/2006), was about the year I spent crashing funerals and was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick, which I mention because it might impress you. Also, Mary Roach, one of my writing idols, called it “a must-read for anyone who plans on dying.” Which is another fairly strong endorsement. I mean, come on.

TV stuff: I put food on the table writing and selling TV pilots. You can click here to read about how that became my line of work. In 2013, my spec pilot was produced by CBS (read about that craziness here). It was called THE ORDAINED, and it was about an ex-priest who quits to try to save his sister. The main character was inspired by my father. Then, CBS announced its fall 2013 line-up, and we weren’t on it. So that sucked. In 2014-2015, I am developing two dramas, one for network and one for cable.

Journalism stuff: As a staff writer and foreign correspondent for TIME magazine, I covered social trends, news, arts, science and business in the U.S. and Asia. That sounds like a lot of beats, but that’s pretty typical. As a staff writer, you write whatever they tell you. Features, essays, blurbs, captions, tables of contents, front of the book, back of the book…if it involved words that were printed in TIME, we wrote them. Before that I was a staff writer for Money magazine, and before that managing editor at Financial Planning magazine, and before that a useless person at Ladies’ Home Journal. I’ve had stuff published in The New York Times, Bon Appetit, The Boston Globe, Hemispheres, Adweek, AsiaWeek and other less impressive publications. New journalism: I had my own blogs on and True/Slant (now Old journalism: when I was 23, I was editor-in-chief of a chain of free neighborhood newspapers in Manhattan called The Resident. I know.

This would be my last supper: shokupan.

Finally, some extremely pertinent personal stuff: I was born and raised in Kobe, Japan, and live in New Jersey with my family. (That’s New Jersey. Not New York. I look down on people who live in New Jersey and say they’re from New York. That’s ridiculous. The border between our states is a river. You can’t pretend to miss it. Besides, New Jersey rocks.) My husband is a clarinetist and dedicated home improver. We have two little girls, both with Japanese names, but one looks so white I’ve been asked if I’m the nanny. Which I suppose you could say I am. I prefer tea over coffee, wine over beer, Mac over PC. My favorite food is bread, or, more accurately, Japanese shokupan, which is baked in square loaves with a buttery crust and a mochi-like center. But I’m trying not to eat bread right now because this Jeffrey Ross poem spoke to me:

Your smile blooms like a bright summer flower.
Your hair flows down like a soft rain shower.
Your eyes are like open seas, blue from coast to coast.
So how come your ass looks like a truck?
Enough with the bread already.

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