I used to tell people that I was born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx; but apart from the progressive education I received at the Fieldston School in Riverdale, much of who I am was shaped by my two grandmothers, whose unconditional love and enthusiastic support of my artistic interests encouraged me to follow my bliss wherever it would lead.
My East Side grandmother treated me to excursions at FAO Schwarz, MOMA and the Met Museum, the New York City Ballet, and afternoon tea at the Plaza Hotel, where I fancied myself a latter-day Eloise. My West Side grandmother took me to the Central Park carousel and the zoo and treated me to colorful paper parasols; and gummy, lukewarm pretzels that were considered contraband by her counterpart on the other side of town.
Although there are writers on both sides of my family, as a child I never anticipated that it would become my profession. My first love was the ballet. Yet by the age of 10, I was hellbent on becoming an actress.
I majored in Theatre at Cornell University, worked in summer stock, and took classes with a couple of acknowledged masters. I performed Shakespeare and other classics in New York City parks, basements, church choir lofts, and the occasional Off-Broadway theatre; then founded and ran my own nonprofit theatre company for several years. But when I ended up working three survival jobs simultaneously (one of them as a journalist and editor), I decided it was time to pursue an additional creative avenue. I got myself a literary agent and embarked on the writer’s life at the keyboard and monitor, wading through research tomes and walking in the footsteps of historical figures.
A decade later, I was a multi-published author in three genres [women’s fiction, historical nonfiction; and historical fiction (writing as Amanda Elyot)] as well as a freelance journalist. I’d also adapted a number of classic texts (Ivanhoe; The Prisoner of Zenda; The Scarlet Pimpernel; Mark Twain’s The Diaries of Adam and Eve) for the stage.
2007 saw my nonfiction debut with Royal Affairs, which inaugurated a wonderful career writing about the loves and lives of European royalty. To date, I have published 7 NF titles, 5 of them in the NAL [now Berkeley] series). My nonfiction niche has also led to appearances on national and international media, including the Travel Channel; Canada’s History Channel; CBS Nightly News where in April 2011 I discussed the upcoming wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton; and NBC’s Today Show where I was interviewed on the impending nuptials of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. My 5-book nonfiction “royal” series for Penguin/Random House, narrated by me, will be available in audiobook format later in 2022.
In 2011, under the pen name Juliet Grey, Random House published my trilogy of historical novels on the life of the doomed French queen Marie Antoinette. The work was optioned by Sony pictures; and I also narrated the first of the series, Becoming Marie Antoinette, for Random House audio.
Although I often joke that I “see dead royals,” in November 2017, HarperCollins gave me one month to write AMERICAN PRINCESS: The Love Story of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. The book was published on April 24, 2018, just a few weeks before the royal wedding. Weeks of research, writing, and daily revisions became a blur of promotional interviews, culminating in a glorious morning in Windsor, where I was strolled amid the gathering throngs before taking my place as Facebook’s guest across the street from the castle itself.
I’m still a professional actress, working when the scripts and the roles excite me. I also narrate audio books, which “marries” my twin professions in the spoken and written word. Rarely have I had so much fun than sitting behind a mic interpreting the words of my fellow authors.
Whenever we can, my personal hero–my husband Scott—and I grab the opportunity to enjoy the verdant splendor of our (and Manhattan’s) very own “back 843” acres, walking through Central Park, where we first fell in love more than 15 years ago. His rear motorcycle license plate is set inside a bracket that reads “Save an Author: Buy a Book.”