About Barbara Quick
Born in Los Angeles, Barbara Quick is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz, where she majored in English and French and won a poetry prize. After living for the better part of a year in a cottage in rural County Cork, Ireland, Barbara settled in Berkeley, where she continued to write poetry and free-lanced as a gardener, seamstress, typist, and caterer. A part-time job at the University of California became the entryway for full-time training there as an editor. During those four years at UC, Barbara worked on writing and rewriting what was to become her first novel, Northern Edge.
It took Barbara ten years in all (and thirteen drafts) to finish Northern Edge, which was published by Donald I. Fine in 1990. Set in Arctic Alaska, the book’s detailed descriptions of the arctic landscape were culled from journals Barbara kept while tagging along with a group of bird biologists during two summer field seasons in the Arctic. The book was awarded the Discover: Great New Writers prize (then administered by B. Dalton Books) in 1990. “Northern Edge by Barbara Quick” was the solution to a New York Times Magazine acrostic puzzle by Thomas Middleton that year. The novel was brought out in paperback by HarperCollinsWest in 1995.
Vivaldi’s Virgins (HarperCollins: 2007), Barbara’s second novel, served as a good excuse to learn enough Italian to allow her to do research in Italy and read everything she could find—from books of music history to closely held archives—on Venice in the 18th century. Barbara’s novel was the first of a wave of international books and films that subsequently used the same setting—the 18th century foundling home in Venice, the Ospedale della Pieta, where Antonio Vivaldi was resident priest and composer. Prior to the publication of Vivaldi’s Virgins in English, translation rights were sold by HarperCollins in eight languages: Spanish, Portuguese (one version for Brazil and another for Portugal), Dutch, Hebrew, Romanian, Russian, and Greek. Five more foreign editions have been sold since then, in Korean, Estonian, Indonesian, Polish, and Albanian. The paperback edition was brought out by HarperCollins in 2008—and, of course, the novel is also available as an ebook.
Barbara was in Italy again, in spring 2007, to do research for a young adult novel set in 14th century Bologna. A Golden Web, about the teenage scholar and medical pioneer Alessandra Giliani, was published in April 2010 by HarperTeen. A translation of the novel has been published in Indonesia.
Barbara’s reviews, essays and articles have appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Newsweek, Ms., the Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Her first nonfiction book, Still Friends: Living Happily Ever After…Even If Your Marriage Falls Apart, was published by Wildcat Canyon Books in January 2000. Under Her Wing: The Mentors Who Changed Our Lives was published by New Harbinger in April 2000. Barbara is co-author, with artist Liz McGrath, of the 2004 bilingual mother-daughter gift book from Raven Tree Press, Even More/Todavia mas. The Commitment Dialogues (co-authored with Matthew McKay, Ph.D.) was published by McGraw-Hill in 2005. The book is available in an audio version, and has also been published in Spanish.
Barbara has traveled and lingered in the British Isles, Hungary, France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Alaska, and Brazil. Since 2009 she has lived in the Wine Country of Northern California with her partner Wayne Roden, who is a violist with the San Francisco Symphony as well as a vigneron. Her son Julian is an undergraduate at Humboldt State University, where he is majoring in physics.
A trained dancer and an avid sambista, Barbara has rehearsed, paraded, and performed with the Bay Area Brazilian dance troupe Aquarela—and still takes Brazilian and African dance classes wherever she can find them. She assists Wayne in tending his vineyard and making wine—and has some of her best writing ideas while working in the vegetable and flower gardens she’s been cultivating since her move to the Wine Country.
Profiting from the theater training she had as a child and teenager growing up in Los Angeles, Barbara is one of the rare writers who actually enjoys media interviews and public speaking. She has been a pre-concert lecturer for the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, the Marin Symphony, and the San Jose Chamber Orchestra; and has signed her books pre-concert at the San Francisco Symphony, in addition to doing many radio and some television interviews.
Barbara can speak, read, and write French and Italian fairly well, can communicate and make nice sounds in German, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese, and meet and greet at the most basic level in Hungarian.