My story

Joan_LivingstonI grew up near the ocean in Massachusetts, where my grandparents arrived from the Azores and Madeira islands. My childhood was steeped in all things Portuguese — from saintly aspirations to festas down the street.

My mother taught me to love reading with twice-weekly trips to the public library. My teachers inspired me to write. I longed for straight hair and popularity but settled for being smart instead.

I was the first of my family to graduate from college.

For a very long time, I was too busy raising six kids to write much. I started with poetry but found my way to prose when I began reporting on the hill towns of western Massachusetts for the Daily Hampshire Gazette. I covered meetings, disasters, and small town scandals. I profiled such people as the woman who kept a pet porcupine and the farmer who became Clinton’s national security advisor.

I worked as a journalist for over 30 years. My most recent gig was managing editor of an award-winning newspaper, The Taos News, for eight years. My editorials won state and national awards, and I’d like to think, brought positive change.

As a journalist I listened to the way people talked and observed how they behaved. It’s an experience I believe has paid off with realistic dialogue and true-to-life characters in my novels.

I placed short stories and non-fiction pieces in numerous publications but my true calling is writing novels — realism for adults and magical realism for middle-grade kids. I recently published the first in the los Primos bilingual series (with my collaborator Teresa Dovalpage), Peace, Love, and You Know What, an adult novel inspired by my own college experience, and The Sweet Spot, set in the hill towns of Western Massachusetts, where Hank and I returned recently after over a decade in Taos, New Mexico.

My next novel, Chasing the Case, a mystery set in the hill towns, will be launched in May by Crooked Cat Books. This is the first in a series featuring Isabel Long, a journalist turned amateur P.I.