Susan Wittig Albert
Born in Chicago on January 2, 1940, and raised on an Illinois farm, Albert got married at the age of eighteen. Despite the challenge of being a young mother raising three children born fairly close together, Albert was determined to get her college degree. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Illinois, and earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of California at Berkeley in just four years.
Her first job, in 1972, was an Associate Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin. In 1979, she became the first woman dean of Newcomb College at Tulane University in New Orleans and in 1981, she returned to Texas and became Vice President of Academic Affairs at Southwest Texas State in San Marcos. Four years later, however, she abandoned her thriving career to make some major life changes. Having become thoroughly fed up with academic politics, she quit and decided to find a better way to live her life.
One change was her marriage, in 1986, to Bill Albert, a computer systems analyst who would become not only her husband, but also her partner in many other pursuits—most importantly, in her writing. Moving to Texas, the Alberts started off by collaborating on 60-plus young adult novels, including books in the Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys series.
As they came to appreciate Bill's talent for constructing wickedly complex plots, the Alberts moved on to write a series of Victorian mysteries under the pseudonym of Robin Paige. Susan also wrote two works of nonfiction, Work of Her Own: A Woman's Guide to Success Off the Career Track and Writing from Life. But it was not until she created the plucky China Bayles and her savory mysteries that Susan Albert developed her trademark series. She created China Bayles, a sleuth who jumped off the fast track at a big law firm to open a herb shop. Now Albert has written twelve China Bayles mysteries. Each book is named after a favorite herb.
"Herbs are about coming home, putting down roots, making connections," Albert reflects. An avid gardener, she cultivates her own herbs, both culinary and ornamental, and never writes about one she hasn't grown. Also an avid researcher, Albert enjoys delving into ancient lore, medicinal uses and symbolic associations surrounding each "signature" herb. She then weaves intricate narrative tangles for her star sleuth and supporting cast of colorful characters.
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