Caroline Linden earned a math degree from Harvard University before turning to writing fiction. Ten years, nine books, two Red Sox championships, and one dog later, she has never been happier with her decision.
The longer version
Once upon a time, there was a little girl who wanted nothing more than to be an astronaut. Or a fashion designer. Possibly both; pink spacesuits would look so much better than white ones. But it turned out those were difficult careers to combine, and eventually the fashion designing fell by the wayside.
Astronaut, however, still sounded good—until she found out she would never be allowed inside the space shuttle without either joining the military or becoming a serious scientist. The military was clearly out, as it required running in combat boots. So, she thought to herself, I'll be a scientist: a physicist.
Between physics and calculus, she read, of course. Everything from Thomas Hardy to William Shakespeare to Nancy Drew and…romance novels. Reading books was easy, losing herself in a different world; writing…eh. Give me a problem set over a writing assignment any day, she thought, and when she went to college, she made sure of that by being a math major.
Four years later, she took her degree and ran, having graduated through bitterly hard work, dumb luck, and one stupendously brilliant dating decision. (Special tip to anyone struggling in their major: date a graduate student in your field. Seriously.) Recognizing a good thing when she saw it, she married that boyfriend, and together they set out from the cold Northeast for warm, sunny Florida.
Florida was lovely. She got a job programming and learned to appreciate stone crab. South Beach was twenty minutes away. No hurricanes hit their house. Life was good—so good, she and her husband decided to have a baby. So they did.
Life was even better. The baby was beautiful, healthy, and slept right through the night. She went back to work, part time, and lost all the baby weight plus five pounds. Still no hurricanes hit their house. So when her husband turned to her one night and said, "Let's have another baby," she said yes.
The second baby was also beautiful and healthy (although not as good a sleeper as the first). With two children now, she agreed wholeheartedly with her husband that they should move back to the Northeast, to be close to family, better schools, and Fenway Park. So they moved.
At first, all was well. It was summer, and the children loved playing outside in less than one hundred percent humidity. The house needed some work, but it wasn't anything they couldn't do themselves with a little elbow grease. The Red Sox made the playoffs, and every single game was on TV. Life was great. And then winter came.
It was the first winter in several years for her. Instead of hurricanes, there was snow: snow, snow, snow, and more snow. It was too cold to take young children out to play. Her perfect toddler had grown into a perfect little terror, and her perfect baby turned into a little monkey. The last five pounds of baby weight went nowhere. The house turned out to need major electrical work, among other things, and she lived with revolving blackouts while every circuit in the house was painstakingly separated and rewired. Trapped in a dark house in an unfamiliar town with two children under the age of three, the girl who had once wanted to explore outer space sat down at her computer one day and thought, "If my children won't do what I want them to do, I'll just create some imaginary people who will." So she did.
Five years, three manuscipts, and many rejections later, her agent called to say that someone wanted to buy one of those manuscripts, What A Woman Needs.
Today she still dreams of space (preferably office space inside her house), and of imaginary people who do just what she wants them to do, when she wants them to do it. She still lives with her family near Boston, has become numb to all the snow, is down to the last three pounds of baby weight, and regularly spends a fortune on tickets to Fenway—home of the World Series Champion Red Sox!
Life is very, very good.