I was born at a time when the last woolly mammoths still walked the earth. My mother taught me most of what I know about writing. She got a pretty good idea that she'd better make me into a writer—since I'd never succeed at anything else—when my preschool teacher told her the following story:
One rainy day the teacher took my class on a make-believe walk. We were indoors, the walk was real, and the sights were not. For example: "A car's coming class," my teacher said. "Everybody stop." We came to a puddle. "Here's a puddle," my teacher said. Everyone walked it around but me. I plodded straight through. "Petey, what about the puddle?" my teacher asked. "I've got boots on," I said.
There you have the nascent writer: uncooperative, attention-seeking, and tiresome. My mother rolled with it.
I graduated from Williams College with an actual degree and went to work as a spearfisherman in the Bahamas. Later I worked a bit in radio, and found I was better suited to working on my own—and what could be more alone than writing? So far I've written 22 novels. These include 17 crime fiction novels, among them Oblivion; End of Story; Lights Out (Edgar best-novel nominee); The Fan (made into a movie with Robert DeNiro); the New York Times bestselling Echo Falls series for middle-schoolers (beginning with Down the Rabbit Hole, an Agatha winner); the new YA Reality Check (2009); and, under the name Spencer Quinn, Dog On It, an New York Times bestseller and first in the Chet and Bernie mystery series. I'm now at work on a YA for publication in 2010 called Bullet Points.
I'm married with four children, most of them now grown-up, or doing a perfect imitation thereof. I live on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, overlooking a salt marsh. We have a great dog named Audrey. She does everything backwards.