If the youth group I grew up attending had been giving out awards at the time, I would have a room full of ping pong trophies. Going from glory to glory, a few years later I was rounded up by campus police at my university for scaling the chapel roof to deposit a fellow student’s shoes on the steeple. They let me graduate anyway, and since then I’ve dabbled in the medical field, spent almost a decade fighting traffic in California when I wasn’t clawing my way up the ladder from my corporate cubicle, and then turned a downsizing job loss into a yearlong adventure tooling around the country in a beater RV promoting my first novel, The Minor Protection Act.

I then moved to Spain to join an international aid organization and traveled with my video camera into a number of countries that aren’t on the typical tourist circuit. After that excitement I was finally ready for marriage, so five years ago I accepted the first proposal I ever received that did not involve an exchange of camels. My husband and I got married and moved to Istanbul, where we are happily living and not-always-happily learning Turkish.