About the author


about the author…

Barbara Quick is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC), where she majored in English with a minor in French. While a student there, she served as an undergraduate teaching assistant for two different professors, in Classics and English, as well as a research assistant for two years in the French Department. Barbara was awarded second place in the Ina Coolbrith Memorial Poetry Prize competition for the best unpublished poem or group of poems by an undergraduate student in California.

Barbara’s first piece of journalism was published during a nine-month-long stay in a borrowed cottage made from the stones of a ruined 18th century watchtower in rural West County Cork, Ireland, where she wrote, froze and lost an alarming amount of weight. (When one of the local farmers passed her on the road and wanted to give her a compliment, he’d say, “Gee, you look fat today!”)

Following her stint as a starving writer, Barbara settled in Berkeley, California, where she got an entry-level job at the University of California and continued to write poetry, some of which was published in various literary journals. Over the course of six years at UC Berkeley, she worked her way up the editorial ladder to a senior level position. She spent two field seasons as a volunteer in remote Arctic Alaska with a group of bird biologists, helping with a census of kittiwakes and murres, writing detailed notes about the landscape and storing up impressions for what would become her first novel. In 1987, she married filmmaker John Quick, lived with him on a sailboat, spent half a year in Budapest, and turned her hand to fiction.

It took Barbara ten years and thirteen drafts to write her first novel, Northern Edge. The book won the Discover: Great New Writers Prize when it was published in cloth by Donald I. Fine in 1990. There were jacket quotes from Ursula LeGuin and Jessica Mitford. The novel was brought out in paperback by HarperCollinsWest in 1995 and optioned for a film in 2007. Barbara was a featured speaker shortly after the book’s publication at Literary Women: The Long Beach Festival of Authors. She became a frequent reviewer for the New York Times Book Review and had a MyTurn essay published in Newsweek (“Tales from the Self-Help Mill”) on August 31, 1992, a couple of months before giving birth to her son Julian. Thomas Middleton published an acrostic puzzle in Harper’s that had “Northern Edge by Barbara Quick” as its solution.

Finding herself a single mother in 1997, Barbara wrote two pop psychology books over the course of the same number of years (Still Friends: Living Happily Ever After… Even If Your Marriage Falls Apart (Wildcat Canyon Books) and Under Her Wing: The Mentors Who Changed Our Lives (New Harbinger). During this time, from 1998-2000, she ran an international boardinghouse and took up Brazilian dancing. In 2005, with co-author Matthew McKay, PhD, she wrote The Commitment Dialogues (McGraw-Hill, later translated into Spanish) and teamed up with artist Liz McGrath to write the bilingual children’s picture book, Even More/Todavía Más (Raven Tree Books).

To properly do the research for her second novel, Vivaldi’s Virgins, Barbara studied Italian and made several trips to Venice, where she dug in the archives of the Ospedale della Pietà, the foundling home where Antonio Vivaldi was resident priest and composer. The novel was published in cloth by HarperCollins in July 2007, and launched as a paperback reprint in 2008. Translations of the novel were published in Holland, Spain, Russia, Israel, Greece, Brazil, Portugal, Estonia, Poland, Romania, Albania and Korea. Vivaldi’s Virgins was named one of the 10 best books of summer by Redbook, was included on Barnes and Nobles’ Summer List, chosen as a Notable Book for August by BookSense, was an Editor’s Choice for the Historical Novels Review, and was named the best novel of 2007 by the Monserrat Review. Still in print, the novel is a frequent book club choice and is featured on a number of school reading lists.

Barbara’s next project was a young adult novel set in 14th century Bologna, about the western world’s first female anatomist, Alessandra Giliani. A Golden Web, acquired by Rosemary Brosnan, was published by HarperTeen in 2010 and translated into Indonesian.

Barbara’s reviews, essays and articles have appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Newsweek, Ms., the Los Angeles Times, People, Yahoo and the San Francisco Chronicle. She has been interviewed on numerous radio programs, including WNYC’s Soundcheck and KQED’s Forum.

As the invited guest of Professor Harvey Goldblatt, Barbara gave a Master’s Tea at Yale. She was a featured lecturer in 2008 in UCSC’s Living Writers Series and has been a guest teacher for seminars at UC Irvine, Prescott College, the Fromm Institute at the University of San Francisco and at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, where she was the featured speaker at the Fairbanks Annual Literary Jam Session. As a guest teacher, she’s given writing workshops at Book Passage in Corte Madera and at the Westport Writers Workshop in Connecticut. In connection with Vivaldi’s Virgins, she has given pre-concert lectures for the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, the Marin Symphony Orchestra, the San Francisco Girls’ Chorus and the San Jose Chamber Orchestra—and been featured speaker for the San Francisco Symphony League, the Santa Rosa Symphony League, the Sonoma Arts Festival and at the UC San Diego Faculty Club. She won second place for short fiction in the 2017 Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition and was a third place winner in the 2019 Artists Embassy International Dancing Poetry Competition.

Barbara has lived or spent extensive time traveling in the British Isles, Hungary, France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Alaska, and Brazil. She lives on a small farm in Cotati, California, with her husband Wayne Roden, a violist with the San Francisco Symphony. They grow grapes as well as fruit, berries and vegetables—and have a very limited production of quite delicious Pinot gris and Pinot noir.

Barbara’s son Julian is a PhD student in mechanical engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he is working on algorithms for the next generation of wind farms.

A trained dancer, Barbara has rehearsed, paraded and performed with Afro-Brazilian dance troupes in the East Bay and San Francisco, and continues to study West African and Brazilian dance in the North Bay. She can speak, read, and write French and Italian, is fairly functional in German, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese, and can meet and greet in Hungarian and Greek.