About the Author
I spent my career in the world of economics, finance, and real estate development. During that time, I authored Fundamentals of Development Finance, a reference book for practitioners and also a university textbook.
Now, I have returned to my great love, history, to write a work of fiction. I chose Amsterdam for the subject because of my longtime interest in its history, going back to growing up in New York State. The state is rich in Dutch influences, reflected in names of communities such as Holland, Batavia, and Rensselaer. The Dutch founded New Amsterdam, later renamed New York City under English rule. In college, my primary major was history, but I also studied a wide variety of subjects from chemistry to economics and the classics. After graduating, my career veered away from history and into economic research.
Though I would never work in the field of history, it remained my avocation, so much so that after marrying David, also a history lover, we embarked on a six-year odyssey to see the wonders of the world. Along the way, we sojourned in Sydney, Australia, and Denver, Colorado, to work in our fields and replenish our wallets. It was an extraordinary experience that altered our outlooks on life forever. There were challenges too. Among them, I survived cholera in India, and we thwarted an attack by wild dogs while riding bikes on a lonely road in Bali.
We finally settled down in Washington, D.C., where I earned an M.B.A. degree in finance and became Director of Research and Technical Assistance for the Council for Urban Economic Development. Not long after, I went into business on my own, founding Richards Development Company to undertake industrial and commercial real estate development projects. At the same time, David was developing large-scale office buildings, as development director for one firm and vice president of another. He later joined my company, which we jointly owned.
After twenty-five years in Washington, D.C., the itch to try something new and to travel again took hold, prompted in part by my diagnosis and treatment of early-stage breast cancer. So we left our demanding real estate business behind and embarked on a new career of writing historical novels about cities we love. We felt confident that our worldly experiences and knowledge of city dynamics would help us create compelling plots and authentic characters.
Because we wanted to return to beautiful Sydney, Australia, we chose it as the subject for our first novel. At first, David and I researched and wrote together, but eventually realized that a novel requires a single voice and that a happy marriage can be strained by differing opinions on storyline and interpretations of history. So we agreed that David should finish the project because he had outlined the story, and I would assist. Destiny in Sydney and its sequel Gift of Sydney were published with D. Manning Richards as author. Meanwhile, I began scoping out my own historical novel about Amsterdam and decided it would feature the exciting 1600s Golden Age, as well as the tumultuous years of the latter 1500s, when the seeds were sown for Amsterdam's meteoric rise to greatness.
After leaving Sydney, David and I moved to Paris, France, to put me closer to Amsterdam and for him to write a novel about WWII Paris. For the next four and a half years, we lived in a tranquil rented apartment in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood. It was an inspiring location, where famous authors—Hemingway, Sartre, Wilde, and others—lived, loved, and wrote. Remarkably, we both managed to complete our manuscripts and have them critiqued by our beta readers, despite indulging in the many diversions of this wonderful city and hosting numerous guests.
For our next destination, we chose Nice on the French Riviera, because it is the setting for David's sequel. Equally important, we were enamored with the sunny climate, stunning beach, and easy access to snow skiing. We are now hunkered down in Nice, seeking literary agents for our manuscripts, working on our sequels, and trying to avoid getting COVID-19.