She comes from the sun-kissed Southwest, where she grew up in a sprawling, gracious hacienda. The conversation and the lifestyle were genteel, an intellectual reflection of her educator parents.
She also comes from the gritty Midwest, from a constantly-changing hometown and household where dinner guests were likely to be murderers, drug offenders and parolees. Those guests provided a panorama of real-life characters that jump-started the imagination of a budding author.
She is Nicole Foster and she does not have a split personality. Then again, perhaps she does. Nicole Foster is the pen name of romance writing partners Danette Fertig-Thompson and Annette Chartier.
Danette and Annette met over twenty years ago when both were toiling as journalists for a St. Louis newspaper group. Their backgrounds were so different that a friendship seemed far-fetched, much less a partnership.
Annette grew up in Albuquerque with her horses and interests in European travel, skiing, Southwestern architecture and art. Both her parents were teachers, so it was hardly shocking when Annette enrolled in college to study English and Journalism.
When a career move brought her to St. Louis, the outdoors-loving Annette found herself and her two small children imprisoned by the unrelenting Midwestern winters.
She began free-lancing stories for the local newspaper, which was edited by her future partner, Danette Fertig-Thompson. Danette, ironically, was a native of the West also, but moved to Missouri at age 3 when her parole officer father was transferred.
For the next 12 years, her family moved from one small Missouri town to another. The only thing that remained the same was her father’s work and the Runyonesque cast of societal castoffs he often invited into their home.
At 17, Danette began working for the newspaper. After she earned a degree in journalism, her eye and ear for a flamboyant character or line were honed further by years of feature writing.
Hometown profiles were good training for a writer learning her craft, but it hardly compared to the colorful, character-filled, gypsy-like life she had led as a child.
Danette longed to create those complex characters and relocate them to exotic locales, such as those visited by her new correspondent, Annette.
Annette’s varied travels and lifestyles provided the perfect backdrop for Danette’s characters.
Danette and Annette, once reluctant colleagues, became friends, writing partners, novelists and soul sisters. As they are to this day.