Jane...past & present
 
 
my beginning...
I was born on February 27, 1947, in St. Louis, MO.  My father, Palmer Howard Futcher, then an internist at Washington University School of Medicine, often bragged that the obstetrician who delivered me, Willard Allen, was a female hormone expert who discovered progesterone. My mother, Mary Viola Rightor Futcher, nicknamed “Sissy,” was raised in Helena, ARK, and could never remember much about my birth. When I hit my teenage years, she did mention with considerable wistfulness that I had been “a good baby” with “a sunny disposition.” My older sister Marjorie, born in 1945, in Bethesda, MD, never recovered from my arrival but would eventually become my closest friend, mentor and advocate.  Before I was a year old, we moved to Baltimore, where my father took a job at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where his own father, Dr. Thomas Barnes Futcher, had been a physician and professor. Raised in Baltimore, I became an Orioles fan at a very early age and a Colts fanatic at age ten. I still haven’t recovered from the Colts’ troubling abduction to Indianapolis in 1984.
school days...
From 1951 to 1959, I attended Calvert School, where all students were guinea pigs for Calvert’s well known “home instruction” curriculum, the first choice of American spies, diplomats and yachtsman raising their kids overseas in such non-English speaking outposts as Tunis or Dakar.  Calvert girls and boys were taught in separate classrooms, which may have contributed to my early and lasting belief that anyone possessing a Y chromosome is an extraordinarily exotic, if alien, life form.   I loved my best girl friends – Anne, Ellen and Louisa – and playing any and all sports – my favorite being field hockey.  Imagine my surprise, as the song goes, when I discovered that I had not “grown out” of my attachments to girls and in fact they had become full-scale passions.   My conflicting feelings about my same-sex attachments – from joy to crippling self-hatred -- were the inspiration for my first novel, Crush (1981).   Lesbian relationships have been the focus of two of my other novels – Dream Lover (1997) and Leaving Liza (unpublished) -- and many short stories.
Despite a recurring childhood nightmare in which I had to write a “one-hundred word composition,” I knew I wanted to be a writer at sixteen, after attending a summer writing seminar at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.
I took every creative writing class offered at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, and wrote for the school literary magazine.  The two highlights of my undergraduate education were: falling in love with a boy --  a guitar player from Great Neck, NY, and spending my junior year at University College London.  In London, I took literature classes and played center forward on the University College girls’  field hockey team.  After graduating from Dickinson in 1969, I attended Boston University’s Master’s Program in Creative Writing, where I loved meeting and being taught by real writers, including the British novelist Thomas Hinde, poet John Malcolm Brinnin, and the brilliant and insightful literary critic Helen Vendler.  When I received my M.A. in creative writing in 1970, I had no idea how to make my way as a writer.
my career & life so far...
I started my professional writing life as a script writer and producer of live, high school multimedia auditorium shows for Rick Trow Productions in Philadelphia.  Later, as a project editor for Harper & Row Media in New York, I wrote and produced educational media for its science and society curriculum.  In 1977, I moved to San Francisco, and while continuing to freelance, I wrote my first novel, Crush, published in 1981 by Little, Brown.  That same year, my book Marin: The Place, The People, was published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston.  My book reviews appeared frequently in the San Francisco Chronicle and Plexus, a monthly women’s newspaper published in Oakland, CA. 
In 1991, Avon published my second young adult novel, Promise Not to Tell, about the sexual molestation of a teenaged girl and her best friend’s attempt to rescue her.  In 1988, I helped launch The Slant, a monthly newspaper for the gay/lesbian/bisexual/trans community of Marin County.   From 1995 to 2004, I was on the staff of the Marin Independent Journal as an editorial writer and medical reporter.  In 2004, my partner Erin Carney and I moved to Mendocino County, where we built a house on 160 acres and began living “off the grid.”   I’ve just completed a memoir about that experience called North to Mendocino: How I Was Dragged Kicking and Screaming to the Country and Learned to Love Rattlesnakes, Bears, Coyotes and Marijuana.
Since moving to Mendocino County, I’ve continued to freelance for the Marin Independent Journal.   My story about the murder of a gay Mendocino County man, “The Way It Would End,” appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine.  In August 2008, California Lawyer magazine published “Lawyers, Guns, and Money,” about the arrest in 2007 by federal agents of ten Hmong leaders accused of terrorism – among them Hmong Vietnam war hero Gen. Vang Pao.
After nineteen years together, Erin Carney and I married at the Mendocino County Clerk’s office in June 2009.  Erin was a home birth midwife for twenty-five years in the Bay Area.  She’s now a home health and hospice nurse and the mother of two adult daughters.
the future...
A childhood experience at a summer camp near Taos, NM, and an early passion for the fiction of D.H. Lawrence, who lived in Taos briefly,  have inspired the new novel that I’m working on currently.  I dream of writing a musical about D.H. Lawrence and his quixotic wife, Frieda von Richthofen.  My life goals are:  to stay healthy and live passionately; to treat myself and others with kindness, compassion, patience and honor, and to write, write, write.
About the site:
Books
I have written eight books. Some are soon to be available for sale on iBooks, Amazon and other retailers. To take a look just click here.
Articles
Many of my article can be read here on my site. Just click here.
Blog
I do a weekly blog voicing my opinions, perspective & reflections on a varied array of topics. Read.
Photos
This is a good place to get a better look at some of the photos from my books or the places & people I visit.
links:
Coming soon!Books.htmlBooks.htmlArticles/Articles.htmlArticles/Articles.htmlBlog/Blog.htmlBlog/Blog.htmlPhotos/Photos.htmlshapeimage_3_link_0shapeimage_3_link_1shapeimage_3_link_2shapeimage_3_link_3shapeimage_3_link_4shapeimage_3_link_5shapeimage_3_link_6
Things you might like to know...
Awards:
Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, 2005,
Taos, NM, Artist-in-residence fellowship.
California Newspaper Publishers Award 2002,
first prize for “Confronting Cancer” special section.
Medical Journalist of the Year 2002,
Marin Medical Society.
Best of Gannett, 1996,
for an editorial series on homelessness.
American Library Association, 1992.
Promise Not to Tell was selected as a "Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers."
Marin Arts Council, 1991.
Grant in "Art for Youth" category for Promise Not to Tell.
Geographic Society of Chicago, 1981.
Best travel book of 1981 for Marin: The Place, The People.
Personal Favorites:
Books
Amy and Isabelle, Elizabeth Strout; Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides; 
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Steig Larsson.
Movies
The Littlest Fugitive; When Harry Met Sally; Casablanca.
Music
James Taylor, Sweet Baby James album; J.S. Bach’s Cantata No. 78 for soprano and contralto; La Cage Aux Folles, music and lyrics by Jerry Herman.
Places
Cherry Creek in Mendocino County, where I live; Greenwich Village, New York; Woodstock, Vermont.
Foods
Watermelon; pesto with angel hair pasta; just about all Chinese food.
Favorite Quotes:
A “metta” prayer, 
by Sharon Salzberg (from The Kindness Handbook)
May I offer my care and presence without conditions, knowing they may be met by gratitude, anger or indifference. Click here to continue.
From “Musee des Beaux Arts,” by W. H. Auden, 1940
About suffering they were never wrong, The Old Masters: how well they understood Click here to continue.
“The Death of the Hired Man,” From Robert Frost, 1941
Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in. Click here to continue.
From “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,”
 by T.S. Eliot, 1917
And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?” Click here to continue.
From “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” 
by W.B. Yeats, 1893
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, Click here to continue.
“Love Song,” 
music and lyrics by Leslie Duncan, 1969
The words I have to say
May well be simple but they’re true
Until you give your love
There’s nothing more that we can do. Click here to continue.Favorite_Quotes.htmlFavorite_Quotes.htmlFavorite_Quotes.htmlFavorite_Quotes.htmlFavorite_Quotes.htmlFavorite_Quotes.htmlFavorite_Quotes.htmlFavorite_Quotes.htmlshapeimage_10_link_0shapeimage_10_link_1shapeimage_10_link_2shapeimage_10_link_3shapeimage_10_link_4shapeimage_10_link_5shapeimage_10_link_6shapeimage_10_link_7
Memorable Events:
Feb. 27, 1947, St. Louis, MO.
I was born to Mary Viola Rightor “Sissy” Futcher and Palmer H. Futcher, M.D. My mother was a social worker raised in Helena, Arkansas, and my father was a doctor, trained at Johns Hopkins Hospital, where his own father had been a medical professor. Both my grandfathers were doctors and one of my great grandfathers was a doctor. I wanted to be a doctor, too, but I flunked chemistry for non-science majors in college. (Much later, to support my writing, and because I loved the work, I became a masseuse. Almost the same as a doctor, right?) Both my parents consulted the “Social Register” and the “Blue Book” regularly to identify the breeding lines, schools attended and addresses of friends, acquaintances and people they wanted to know better. I never understood how their love of “Society,” debutante balls and the Ivy League squared with their work on behalf of racial equality and the rights of women and children (Mother) and world peace and nuclear disarmament (Dad). I still don’t.
February 1973, Rye, New York.
My boyfriend took me home to meet his sister, who seduced me while her children were on an overnight and her husband and brother were asleep. Since childhood, I had wanted to become a lesbian but couldn’t figure out how.  She made it easy.  I floated blissfully out of the closet and moved to New York to start My Life.
February 26, 1977, NYC/San Francisco.
I moved from New York to San Francisco with my friend and lover, Catherine J. Hopkins, a photographer and graphic designer. I was lonely in California, but I loved the light and mountains and water and awesome spaciousness of the West. Had I come home?  Well, it was sure different from Baltimore, where I was raised.
September 1981, San Francisco.
My first two books were published – Crush and Marin: The Place, the People.  I was a real author. The Marin book went out of print about four  years later. Crush, published as a young adult novel, is still in print.
March 22, 1983.  Mill Valley, CA.
I had my last drink. I was kind of tense without alcohol, but Twelve Step programs helped me learn to love sobriety. Easy does it!
March 3, 1985, Philadelphia.
My mother died at home of colon cancer.  I help one hand, my father held her other as she took her last breath -- in her grandfather’s bed.
July 5, 1990, Novato, CA.
I had a blind date with Erin Carney. Erin was a home birth midwife with a wild blond tiger mane, freckles, cosmic blue eyes and a wonderful, warm laugh. We ate Chinese food at North Bay Seafood, saw the groundbreaking film about AIDS, “Longtime Companion,” during which I cried (something I almost never did) and walked in the hills of Indian Valley under the full moon. Wow. Soul mate!  We’ve been together ever since. “Nothing compares to you.”
January 4, 1996, Catskill, NY.
Another soul mate and my closest friend, Catherine J. Hopkins, died of ovarian cancer at age 54.
January 29, 2004, Cockeysville, MD.
My father died of complications related to a cerebral bleed, in Cockeysville, MD.  As Auden said of W.B. Yeats,  “O all the instruments agree / The day of his death was a dark cold day.”
March 1, 2004, San Francisco, CA.
Erin and I married in the Rotunda at San Francisco City Hall. With our closest friends present, Erin’s daughter, Nam Kirn, and my friend and cousin, Anne Rightor Thornton, signed as witnesses on our marriage certificate. Afterwards, Anne hosted a wedding luncheon at her Victorian house on Divisadero Street. We ate salmon and wedding cake,  danced in a circle, and threw our bouquets from the top of the staircase.
March 26, 2004, Cherry Creek, CA.
Our new house at Cherry Creek in Mendocino County completed, me and the dogs and the moving vans roared up Highway 101 from Novato to our new home.  Life in the country began.