Eleanor Cooney grew up in Connecticut. Her mother was the novelist Mary Durant; when Mary's first novel was published in the 1960s, and young Eleanor read it, the proverbial light bulb popped to life in her head: she recognized the real-life people and events upon whom the characters and plot were based, and because of that familiarity, saw the way her mother had changed things around, invented circumstances, conversations and fashioned composite characters to create a story. It was a behind-the-scenes crash course in the art of fiction-writing, the marvelous synthesis by which the novelist spins fact and invention into literature. And she understood that really good fiction, though technically a "made up" story, is always imbued with Truth with a capital "T." There were books everywhere in the house in Connecticut, plus Eleanor's father (her parents divorced early on) was a professor of English Lit at Columbia University in New York. He, too, was a fine writer, and his house was also packed with books.
She migrated west after art school in Boston, had a lot of fun squandering her youth in the sex-drugs-and-rock 'n' roll scene of Boulder, Colorado in the 1970s, then pushed further west to Mendocino, California, where she finally buckled down. She got a job with a local News Service; the boss, recognizing her proclivities, made her the free-roving reporter. No City Council Meetings or JV sporting events for her! He turned her loose to write about anything she wanted: movie and play reviews, interviews with eccentrics deep in the woods, satire, and even a male strip show at a local dive bar. She learned that she could meet a deadline and actually get paid. And it dawned on her that she was, in fact, a writer.
Things really took off when she collaborated with the late Daniel Altieri, a scholar of Chinese language and literature. They wrote three internationally bestselling historical novels set in T'ang Dynasty China (William Morrow), which were translated into ten languages. Later, when her mother was brought down by Alzheimer's, Eleanor wrote the critically acclaimed memoir DEATH IN SLOW MOTION (HarperCollins), also translated into many languages. Most recently, she wrote MIDNIGHT IN SAMARRA (Skyhorse) for Greg Ford, an Iraq vet. Her work has appeared in Harper's and Mother Jones magazines. She's finishing another novel right now, THE DEVIL YOU KNOW, a noir literary thriller set in Wisconsin in the late 1800s and the present, as well as a collection of essays called NO COUNTRY FOR OLD WOMEN.
Her hobbies include arguing online with the wrong-headed, curating strange old black-and-white photos, and striving every day of her life for a good night's sleep. She still lives in Mendocino.