Jo Horne Schmidt has been writing historical and contemporary fiction for over a decade. She is a two-time finalist for the coveted Rita award from the Romance Writers of America. Her most recent nomination came this year for her book Caroline and the Preacher, set in New York City and published by Steeple Hill under her pen name, Anna Schmidt. She has published 13 works of historical and contemporary fiction and is working on a new contemporary now. Jo’s latest novel, Then and Now, written for Berkley’s Time Passages series has received excellent reviews. Jo writes for Berkley as Willa Hix -- a name she chose when her uncle, William Hix, unexpectedly left her a small inheritance. In addition to her fiction, she has published four books of non-fiction and she has all the notes and research done for development of a screenplay -- when she has time.
Jo began her writing career by receiving a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board and the National Endowment for the Arts to write a play about Holocaust survivors. She has taught at the college level, developed curricula for national university programs and been a popular speaker at workshops and seminars. Currently she works for an international pharmaceutical company handling public and corporate communications for its US affiliate. While she has enjoyed her success, she believes that the defining moments of her career were the survival of two “dry” periods during which nothing she wrote was of interest to the outside world -- each these lasted at least three years. The next book she sold in each case was like starting over again. The fact that she kept writing -- needed to write -- even if she didn’t publish -- convinced her more than anything else that she is indeed a writer.