I’m a writer. It’s a family tradition, learned from my grandmother, the queen of pithy comments who served putdowns at her Sunday dinners along with her pot roasts. Grandma never swore. It wasn’t ladylike, but she raised insulting someone’s intelligence, morality, behavior, manners and children or mate to an art form. My grandparents owned the Pine Tree Tavern below First Avenue in downtown Seattle. Grandma kept a “cuss jar” for her clientele who were not allowed to use inappropriate language in her presence, even if many of the “ladies” actually weren’t, and their “gentlemen” friends paid for the “pleasure” of their company.
I began to record Grandma’s stories as a teenager, although I knew nothing about the techniques or mechanics of what would become my passion. Many of my relatives squirmed at her turn of a phrase. I admired her use of language which made her the powerful matriarch of our extended family. She always identified our family as being “lace-curtain” rather than “shanty” Irish and we were expected to live up to her standards. Yet she supported my writing, repeating stories of her family numerous times, warning me to get my facts straight and asking me to repeat the stories back to her. This became a foundation for my writing. For my grandmother, I was already a writer, whether I ever published or not. I was also her favorite grand-daughter because I never grew tired of listening to her.
When I graduated from high school, I was determined to be a writer. My creative writing teacher had told me I had talent and suggested college. No one in our extended family had ever attended college. The girls married and the boys went to work. I was different. As I told Grandma then, I knew men came with baggage and expected women to buy the suitcases. In return, she confessed she’d planned to remain single but when she was 22, she met Grand-dad and he refused to “live in sin” with her. She admitted she’d always envied women who had love without matrimonial ties or the responsibility of children.
My grandparents worked hard all their lives, but they didn’t have the money to send me to college and neither did my mother. I came from a poor, single-parent household. I went to work for a temporary office service and washed dishes at night in a restaurant. I began writing my first novel, a romance because I had read hundreds of them and they were my favorite fantasy. I always wanted a hero to ride in on a white horse and rescue me, but I didn't expect it to happen. Still, I knew I could write a great story and when I finished, I sent it off to Harlequin in Canada.
That publisher turned down my manuscript, but I was hooked. I was determined to write my stories and I knew someday I would sell a book. Along the way, I kept working at a variety of jobs, went to college, took classes from published authors, and never gave up on my stories or my dreams. I sold two middle-grade novels thirty+ years ago, then when that publisher folded, went on to write for magazines and newspapers.
In 2010, I sold my first romance novel, A Man’s World, the first in my Liberty Valley series to SirenBookStrand. It’s soon to be re-released by Melange Satin Romance. Because I also write young adult novels, my pseudonym is a variation of my grandmother’s name, Josie Malone. Since 2010, I've sold more than 20 novels. I always try to remember more of Grandma’s advice. "Your words have power. Use it wisely. Don't shout when a whisper will do."