Elise M. Stone was born and raised in New York, went to college in Michigan, lived in the Boston area for eight years, and now lives in sunny Tucson, Arizona, where she doesn’t have to shovel snow. Her first degree was in psychology, her second in computers. She’s worked as a pizza maker, library clerk, waitress, social worker, programmer, and data jockey.
She enjoys raising African violets, except when they mysteriously fail to thrive. Just as mysteriously, they often enchant her by producing lots of blooms. Someday she’ll get the hang of growing fewer of the former and more of the latter.
Retired now, she spends her days doing her two favorite things: writing and reading. Agatha and Spenser, her two cats, keep her company while watching birds and lizards outside her office window. Her first series, The Community of Faith mysteries, she classifies as realistic Christian fiction. The African Violet Club Mysteries is a cozy series that could be classified as geezer lit, but which she prefers to think of as fiction with mature characters.
I’m enchanted by Tucson and the surrounding area. Every sunset is like a painting by a master artist. The way shadows and sunlight play over the Catalina Mountains. The fact that you can wear shorts in December, while snow-topped Mount Lemmon rises to the north.
Natural disasters are rare. We get no hurricanes, no tornados, no blizzards, and only occasional flash floods when the monsoon rains fill the washes and overflow into the streets. But there are no wide-spread floods, and only once or twice have I felt the occasional tremor of a minor earthquake.
As if to make up for the glorious climate, the flora and fauna are often dangerous. Cacti and mesquite trees sport thorns to prick your skin. There’s even one cactus referred to as “jumping” cholla because the spined pads so easily detach from the plant in favor of your clothing.
Then there are the critters. Yes, we have rattlesnakes. Fortunately, I’ve never run into one of these in the wild. But you always have to be on the lookout for them in the warm months. And tarantulas. One once made a home in the front yard of my house. And scorpions. You learn to keep the insect population under control, if for no other reason than to not provide a buffet for scorpions. Coyotes roam the streets, even occasionally in town. So do javelinas, animals that look somewhat like pigs, but aren’t. They like to knock over trash cans to feed. Once I lived in an apartment complex that had a resident bobcat.
But there are also the clear, dark skies where you can see so many stars. Having grown up in an area near New York City, watching meteors flash across the night sky still thrills me.
I love incorporating the wonders of southern Arizona into my books, sharing its beauty and uniqueness.