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Lisa Jackson

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Zoe Archer
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Zoe wanted to write soon after her mother taught her how to read. (Incidentally, the first book she read was Arnold Lobell’s Grasshopper On the Road.) Different people had the enviable task of transcribing stories young Zoe would narrate into a portable tape player, and they all shed tears of joy when Zoe finally learned how to type so she could write down her own damn stories. One of her first works, written at the age of eleven, was a sixty-page fantasy epic inspired by the musical Cats, which is now sadly lost to the mists of time.

In the 9th grade, Zoe began to read romances. She would read them under her desk in physical sciences class, and on the bus, and late into the night until her head spun from eyestrain. There were early forays into writing romance, but when it came time for Zoe to go to college at the University of California, Santa Cruz she concentrated on her studies of medieval and Renaissance literature, and now those early romances are also lost. (If someone should find them, please return them to Zoe where she can seal them in a lead-lined vault.) During those years at Santa Cruz, Zoe contemplated becoming a costume designer and historian, designing costumes for small undergraduate productions and drawing lots and lots of pictures of maidens in flowing gowns.

Zoe entered graduate school at the University of California, San Diego, fully intending to earn her PhD in 18th century literature. What she would do with that PhD was something she hadn’t quite figured out. Further, she couldn’t read French or Latin, something she would have to do in order to get her doctorate. Deus ex machina arrived in the form of a short story contest, sponsored by Glimmer Train Stories, which Zoe entered and won. She even fielded a few calls from agents wanting to see her manuscript. Oddly, they weren’t asking about her dissertation.

So Zoe sat herself down and asked herself if she wanted to keep working on her PhD and head into an uncertain future of fighting for tenure, or writing fiction. She chose fiction, and left UC San Diego with a Master’s degree in literature. (Her Master’s thesis was about film adaptations of Jane Austen—go ahead and ask her about any adaptation and she can talk until you can’t bear to hear the word “quadrille” any more.)

Although she was born in New York and lived there until she was six months old, Zoe had no recollection of living anywhere but in California. So everyone was surprised, including her, when she moved to Iowa City to attend the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Much long underwear was worn. Two years and several snowstorms later, she was the proud owner of a shiny new MFA from the Writers’ Workshop. As soon as the degree was in her hot little hand, she promptly moved back to Los Angeles, her home town.

Day jobs followed. Zoe was blessed with the most supportive boyfriend who was also a writer, and much more disciplined about writing than she had ever been. Following his example, she got up every morning before work and wrote. And wrote. And kept writing. The supportive boyfriend had to contend with bouts of extreme grouchiness as several manuscripts were written but none were bought. The supportive boyfriend became the supportive husband, and then, one day, Zoe got The Call from her agent. Lady X’s Cowboy had been bought by Dorchester Publishing. A few months after that, Dorchester bought Love In a Bottle.

Not fully convinced that she isn’t asleep under an Iowan snowdrift and dreaming those last two sentences, Zoe continues to write every morning. She and her husband share an office and get up periodically to take turns accosting the cat. When she isn’t writing or working, Zoe loves to bake, read, knit toys and oblong shapes, and plan home improvement projects.

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Photo: Zoe Archer
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Blades of the Rose
Nemesis Unlimited
The Ether Chronicles
The Hellraisers
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