Born in the heart of Brooklyn, by four I was a pint sized, curly haired strawberry blond who sang and acted on stage and TV (the money I made from sudsy soap opera roles helped pay my college tuition). But at twelve, like most other pre-teens, I just wanted to be one of the kids on the block. I also knew where my passion really lay, not in tap dancing before the camera, but in tapping words out on the keyboard. I wanted to, needed to, couldn't not, write. I started with my own fairy tales, went on to spin detective stories a la Nancy Drew, and in high school wrote reams of poetry about young (sigh!) love.
At American University in Washington, D.C., I majored in English and became the first woman editor of AU's literary magazine, a historic moment in the shattering of glass ceilings. Or that's how I felt at nineteen. Drawn back to Manhattan, I earned a masters in English from New York University. And followed that—to my parents' utter astonishment—by actually supporting myself through writing, first as a restaurant reviewer (gaining fifteen pounds and a lifelong passion for béarnaise sauce) and theater critic for Where magazine, then as its New York editor, finally as a senior editor for Harcourt Brace publishers. Which is how I met my husband—interviewing him at a medical conference. He sent roses. I wrote more poetry.
In fact, my first book was a collection of prayer-poems published by Doubleday in hardcover and Avon in paperback. Mercy, Lord, My Husband's in the Kitchen received glowing reviews from People magazine, the West Coast Review of Books, the New York Daily News and other publications. After my daughter was born, I wrote short fiction, poetry and articles for magazines such as Readers Digest, Parents, and McCall's.
As a young widow, I headed into the workforce full time as Sr. VP of Public Information for an international network of transplant banks. The job was fascinating and fulfilling. But writing fiction tugged at me with a gravity I couldn't resist. I had stories to tell about women's journeys, how they bonded, battled, survived and, usually, had the last laugh. My first novel, My Favorite Midlife Crisis (Yet), follows divorced surgeon Gwyneth, widowed artist Kat, and never-married businesswoman Fleur, as they prove that strong women only get better (and get even!—the story has a soul-satisfying revenge scene) with age.
After Midlife Crisis was published, I resumed my regularly scheduled life, but of course, I continued writing. What a gift that’s been for me! When things get tough in the real world, I can escape to one of my own making, with characters, plots and endings designed by me. Talk about control! And I get to indulge and explore my own interests and those I think will intrigue my readers. Most fulfilling is to delve into the hearts and minds of fascinating players as they move through challenging times in their lives.
My next novel Happy Any Day Now was published by Penguin Random House in 2013 and selected as a NAL (New American Library) Accent novel. As such, it includes a Conversation Guide with an author interview and suggested book club topics.
Happy Any Day Now introduces Judith Soo Jin Raphael, the half Jewish, half Korean star of the story. We meet her as she approaches her fiftieth birthday with a troubled history, an unquenchable talent, and a doubtful future. She and a unique cast of characters—from her hilarious and wise Korean war-bride mother Grace, to her errant returning father, to a brace of interesting, imperfect men—are eager to entertain you with a story of love and loss, humor, heartbreak, and soaring, beautiful music.
Writing fiction is always an adventure for me and Happy Any Day Now, with its exploration of interesting cultures and tangled relationships was especially exciting.
And now to my latest novel, Barefoot Beach, published by Penguin Random House and available at local bookstores and online booksellers. The setting, a Maryland resort town is gorgeous, but all is not sun, silky sand and calm seas for three women who summer there. Nora Farrell is dealing with a college age son whose search for his biological roots promises to complicate the family dynamic. Widowed, Nora is still not sure if she’s ready to set sail with a love interest who’s been the focus of her fantasies for years. More drama from Nora’s BFF Margo Manolis, who runs The Driftwood Playhouse. Is her marriage to renowned but retired baseball player Pete Manolis really headed into its final inning? And Emine Haydar, owner of the Turquoise Café, is caught between a rebel teen daughter and a mother-in-law whose long arm reaches from Istanbul to Tuckahoe Beach to meddle and make serious trouble. There’s a storm brewing, literally and figuratively in this beach town and when it hits everyone is in jeopardy.
I'd like to hear what you think about all my books, all my posts. You can reach me on Twitter—https://twitter.com/TobyDevens, via email , or at my Facebook page tobydevensauthor. I look forward to staying in touch because bottom line, every line, I take my inspiration from you.