Books, Girl Scouts and music filled Jo's childhood. She discovered the magic of words and the worlds they create: mysteries, English medieval history, the natural world. She explored the joys of the outdoors through Girl Scout camping trips and summers as a canoeing and swimming instructor and camp counselor. She had the usual childhood pets: cats, hamsters, turtles, a chicken...and a skunk. She's vacationed in many countries but not Norway, as yet, which is something she'd like to try. Her travels have introduced her to a variety of food, and as fond as she is of Scotland, she's not tried haggis or Drambuie (in or out of coffee). Brought up on classical, big band and baroque music, she was groomed as a concert pianist until forsaking the piano for the harpsichord. She also plays a Martin guitar and has sung in a semi-professional folkgroup in the US and as a soloist in England.
This mixture formed the foundation for her writing. A true Anglophile, Jo wanted to create a mystery series that featured a British police detective who left the Force over an injustice and now investigates cold cases on his own. The result is the McLaren Mysteries, featuring ex-police detective Michael McLaren.
Jo's insistence for accuracy -- from police methods and location layout to the general “feel” of the area -- has driven her innumerable times to Derbyshire. These explorations and conferences with police friends provide the detail filling the books.
In 1999 she returned to Webster University to major in English. She graduated in 2001 with a BA degree and departmental honors.
Her love of writing, playing board games, and music came together when she and a friend invented a mystery-solving game, P.I.R.A.T.E.S., which uses maps, graphics, song lyrics, and other clues to lead the players to the lost treasure.
Along with fellow mystery author Pam DeVoe, Jo teachs a mystery writing course at St. Louis Community College.
Jo founded the Greater St. Louis Chapter of Sisters in Crime, serving as its first president. Besides her love of mysteries and early music, Jo enjoys photography, reading, crewel embroidery, and her backyard wildlife. Her cat, Tennyson, shares her St. Louis home.