For the past 10 years, Betty Webb has been the book reviewer and feature writer for the Tribune Newspapers, in the metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona area. During that time, she has interviewed some of the most well-known writers in America, such as John Updike, Norman Mailer, John Irving, Dean Koontz, Sue Grafton, Mary Higgins Clark, P.D. James, and many others.
Before embracing the desert lifestyle she now enjoys, Betty was a commercial artist and illustrator in New York City and Los Angeles for more than 25 years, working for large advertising agencies, such as BBD&O. While still living in New York, she wrote and saw the successful production of her play, "The Gospel According to Lewis," and followed that up with another drama, "Prime Time for El Supremo," which was broadcast live as a special feature on KTAR-AM radio, in Phoenix.
In her writing, Betty makes liberal use of her own varied background. She earned her way through art school by working as a folk singer, but eventually gave up singing to concentrate on her art career. At various times, she has picked cotton, raised chickens which laid blue eggs (Speckled Hamburgs), been a horse breeder and trainer (Appaloosas), taught Sunday School, founded a literary magazine, helped rebuild a long-abandoned 120-year-old farm house, and once back-packed the Highlands of Scotland alone.
Betty moved to Scottsdale, Arizona - where her novel, Desert Noir, is set - from New York City in 1982, but her roots go back to Hamilton, Alabama, where most of her large extended family still lives. Last year she published "The Webb Family of Alabama: Survivors of Change," which focused on the descendants of her half-Seneca, half-English great-great-grandfather, William Douglas Webb, who ran away to sea at the age of 16, then after 14 wild years, settled down to farm peacefully in Hamilton. On her mother's side, Betty can trace her roots back to the Barons of Riddell in medieval Scotland. The Riddells, friends and financial supporters of the poet Robert Burns, did not always enjoy the best of reputations; the opera, Lucia di Lammermoor, about a young bride who decapitates her husband on their wedding night, was based upon a real incident in the Riddell family.
"Families have always fascinated me," Betty says. "That's why I thought it would be intriguing to have a detective who was raised in foster care and had no idea of where she came from or who her parents were. Creating the orphaned Lena Jones has helped me appreciate my own ancestral heritage - both the good and the bad!"
Betty currently lives in Scottsdale with her family, where she is at work on her second Lena Jones novel, Desert Wives, based on the polygamous families still operating in Arizona and Utah.
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