Welcome to my website in progress! More FAQ and an event page are coming soon.

For now, I’ll answer the two questions I hear most often about The Tribes:

What drove you to write The Tribes?
I was interested in the reasons why and how smart people get pulled into high control religious groups. At the same time, I wanted to explore what happens when a child’s basic human rights conflict with a parent’s right to religious freedom.

Why Vermont?
At first I thought about setting the novel in a more remote location, such as a jungle. I’d read a lot about Jonestown and the idea of a closed room setting had a certain allure. Ultimately, I settled on Vermont. The state’s laws and the prevailing community ethos (live and let live) provide a hospitable landing place to groups similar to the fictional commune in the book. I love Vermont and spend as much time as possible there.

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The Tribes

A dark and daring debut novel exploring power, control and resilience against all odds, The Tribestells the story of a cult member accused of a shocking crime and the lawyer who chooses to defend her.

One quiet night in a rural Vermont town, a panicked woman calls 9-1-1 on a gas station payphone to report that a newborn baby has died. Local police respond to the call and charge Heather Garner, a college drop-out who’s been a member of fringe religious community The Messiah’s Tribes since the 1990s, with the murder of her infant son. Heather’s future is left in the hands of a family who hasn’t seen or heard from her in almost 20 years.

Abby Harris’s friends and colleagues are puzzled by her choice to take on a child homicide case, but Abby is convinced that there’s more to Heather’s story than meets the eye. Putting her own pregnancy at risk, Abby’s investigations lead her to understand that The Messiah’s Tribes may not be a peaceful, eccentric bunch of hippies, but a well-organized, exploitative criminal enterprise.

Engrossing and suspenseful, the mystery of Heather’s past is revealed piece by terrifying piece, until a jury must decide: Are Heather and her dead child just collateral damage, or is the dead-eyed woman a willing participant in the cult’s sinister agenda?


Agent: Jane Dystel at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret LLC


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