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Meet the WritersImage of Elizabeth Peters
Elizabeth Peters
Biography
Neither the Great Depression nor the lack of a public library in her small hometown of Canton, Illinois, deterred Barbara Mertz (the future Elizabeth Peters) from becoming an avid reader. Yet, when her family moved to a suburb of Chicago, she was elated to discover the riches contained in the town's local library and proceeded to devour every book she could get her hands on. She began writing in high school; but by that time she had already decided to become an archaeologist.

Mertz received a scholarship to the University of Chicago, which boasted a world-famous Egyptology department. Her mother, an eminently practical soul, encouraged her daughter to become a teacher; but after taking only two education courses, Mertz knew a career in the classroom was not for her. Determined to follow her dream, she moved over to the university's Oriental Institute, and received her Ph.D. in Egyptology at the age of 23.

The post-WWII job market wasn't kind to women in general, much less to women seeking careers in archaeology. Mertz married and began a family, but never lost sight of her life's ambition. While she was raising her two children, she decided to try her hand at writing. Her first few attempts were never published, but they did land her an agent; and in 1964 she published her first book, Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphs: A Popular History of Ancient Egypt.

Mertz authored two additional works on archaeology before foraying into fiction in 1966. The Master of Blacktower is the first of several gothic suspense novels written under the pseudonym Barbara Michaels. (In her biography, she explains that the use of pseudonyms helps readers to distinguish various types of books written by a single author.) The supernatural elements in the thrillers penned under the Michaels name have kept readers on the edge of their seats for decades.

In the 1970s, Mertz began writing under her second, more famous pseudonym, Elizabeth Peters. As Peters, she has authored books in three different series. Beginning in 1972 with The Seventh Sinner (1972), the first series features a glamorous librarian-turned-romance novelist named Jacqueline Kirby. (The final Jacqueline Kirby mystery, Naked Once More, won a coveted Agatha Award in 1989.) The second series, starring American art historian Vicky Bliss, debuted in 1973 with Borrower of the Night. (Vicky's last outing was 2008's Laughter of Dead Kings.) Then, in 1975, Peters introduced her most famous protagonist, archeologist/sleuth Amelia Peabody, in a dandy adventure entitled Crocodile on the Sandbank.

From the first, readers loved Amelia, a plucky Victorian feminist who -- together with her husband, the distinguished Egyptologist Radcliffe Emerston -- has gone on to solve countless mysteries in the Middle East. Peabody fans received an extra treat in 2003 with Amelia Peabody's Egypt: A Compendium to Her Journals, a nonfiction stroll through ancient Egypt that included nearly 600 photographs and illustrations, plus expert academic articles.

In addition to her three series, Mertz has written several standalone suspense novels as Elizabeth Peters. She has this to say about her successful, prolific career: "The craft of writing delights me. It is impossible to attain perfection; there is always something more to be learned -- figuring out new techniques of plotting or characterization, struggling with recalcitrant sentences until I force them to approximate my meaning. And nothing is ever wasted. Everything one sees and hears, everything one learns, can be used."



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Good to Know
The pseudonym Elizabeth Peters is taken from her two children, Elizabeth and Peter. She uses three pseudonyms so readers can tell the difference between the three types of books she writes: nonfiction archaeology as Barbara Mertz, supernatural thrillers as Barbara Michaels and historical mysteries as Peters. For the record, Mertz has called the pseudonyms "a horrible nuisance."

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About the Writer
*Elizabeth Peters Home
* Biography
* Good to Know
In Our Other Stores
* Signed, First Editions by Elizabeth Peters
Chronology
*The Master of Blacktower, 1966
*Sons of the Wolf, 1967
*Jackal's Head, 1968
*The Camelot Caper, 1969
*Prince of Darkness, 1969
*The Dead Sea Cipher, 1970
*The Dark On The Other Side, 1970
*The Seventh Sinner, 1972
*Borrower of the Night, 1973
*The Crying Child, 1973
*Witch, 1973
*House of Many Shadows, 1974
*The Murders of Richard III, 1974
*Crocodile on the Sandbank, 1975
*The Sea King's Daughter, 1975
*Legend in Green Velvet, 1976
*Patriot's Dream, 1976
*Devil May Care, 1977
*Wings of the Falcon, 1977
*Street of the Five Moons, 1978
*Wait for What Will Come, 1978
*Summer of the Dragon, 1979
*Walker in Shadows, 1979
*Love Talker, 1980
*Wizard's Daughter, 1980
*Someone in the House, 1981
*Curse of the Pharaohs, 1981
*Black Rainbow, 1982
*Copenhagen Connection, 1982
*Here I Stay, 1983
*Silhouette in Scarlet: A Vicky Bliss Mystery, 1983
*Die for Love, 1984
*The Grey Beginning, 1984
*Be Buried in the Rain, 1985
*The Mummy Case, 1985
*Stitches in Time, 1985
*Lion in the Valley, 1986
*Shattered Silk, 1986
*Search the Shadows, 1987
*Trojan Gold, 1987
*Deeds of the Disturber, 1988
*Naked Once More, 1989
*Smoke and Mirrors, 1989
*Into the Darkness, 1990
*Last Camel Died at Noon, 1991
*The Snake, the Crocodile and the Dog, 1992
*Vanish With The Rose, 1992
*Ammie Come Home, 1993
*Houses of Stone, 1993
*Night Train to Memphis, 1994
*The Hippopotamus Pool, 1996
*The Dancing Floor, 1997
*Seeing a Large Cat, 1998
*The Ape Who Guards the Balance, 1998
*Other Worlds, 1999
*Falcon at the Portal, 1999
*He Shall Thunder in the Sky, 2000
*Lord of the Silent, 2001
*The Golden One, 2002
*Amelia Peabody's Egypt: A Compendium, 2003
*Children of the Storm, 2003
*Guardian of the Horizon, 2004
*Serpent on the Crown, 2005
*Tomb of the Golden Bird, 2006
*Mummy Case, 2007