Born in New York City, I was raised in two very different worlds. My father was the principal of a specialist firm on Wall Street. He was extremely disciplined and determined to teach his children the importance of hard work and financial self-sufficiency. He also was a man who cherished ritual and continuity. He bought a home in Southampton, New York, and joined several private country clubs there so that we could return to the same community summer after summer. My mother is a photographer. She didn't insist that I go to school and often took me to museums or the movies instead. I missed a week of fourth grade to see an entire Katherine Hepburn film festival. She and her husband entertained a constant stream of artists, actors, writers and musicians and I remember many evenings where bedtime was forgotten so that I could participate in the conversation. My mother tried to instill in me an appreciation for diversity and creativity. She urged me not to fear a lack of convention.
After four years in public service as an assistant attorney general in the Criminal Bureau of the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office, and two years in private practice at a large Boston law firm, I abandoned my legal career. I had fantasized about being a writer for years, but was apprehensive about giving up my profession. After a number of family traumas forced me to examine my own life, I realized that I would rather be a failed author than a dreamless lawyer.
I wrote most of Misfortune while living on Cape Cod. I recently moved with my son and our two dogs to a small town about an hour from New York City.
My favorite childhood authors were William Steig and E.B. White. I still read E.B. White's essays whenever I feel uninspired. Some of my favorite authors now are Kazuo Ishiguro, Joyce Carol Oates, Anita Shreve, Louis Begley, David Guterson and Wally Lamb. P.D. James inspires me because of her development of rich characters within a novel of suspense framework. John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil greatly influenced me in writing Misfortune because of his skill in capturing the essence of a society.
NANCY GEARY was a prosecutor for the Criminal Bureau of the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office, a participant in the Attorney General's Urban Violence Strike Force, and an attorney with Choate, Hall & Stewart in Boston. Her family summers in Southampton. She is completing work on her second novel.