Born Charlotte Denise Watson, in 1958 in Seattle (Washington), the eldest
of three children in a working class family. Displayed an early
interest in literature. Dreamed of being a writer since third grade when
Pippi Longstocking hijacked my imagination.
My mother believed it was dangerous for a daughter to always have her head
in a book -- which led to reading by flashlight beneath bedcovers, a
geeky, camouflaged appetite for studying the dictionary and keeping poems
secret until publishing my first at nineteen.
I studied Social Sciences at Seattle University and began law school
shortly after the birth of my first daughter. Once I realized I could
actually become a lawyer, I left the University of Puget Sound and never
I worked as a pretrial screener, outreach coordinator, sexual abuse
counselor, emergency housing counselor, child welfare worker, mental
health screener, volunteer coordinator for a literacy program, research
interviewer, and finally, when my youngest daughter left for college, a
Through an extraordinary blast of effort and good fortune, a collection of
short fiction, Killing Color, was published by Calyx Books (1992); then
shortly after, a novel, One Dark Body, by HarperCollins (1993); then an
anthology, Sisterfire: Black Womanist Fiction and Poetry (1994); another
novel, touch, (1995), and finally, a children's book, Eli and the Swamp
I received the following awards, fellowships, grants:
Seattle Arts Commission Individual Artist Grant, 1989; King County Arts
Commission Fiction Publication Award, 1989; Artist Trust GAP Grant, 1989;
Seattle Artists 1991 Research and Development Grant; Great Lakes Colleges
Association Fiction Award, 1992; Black Womenís Gathering Women of
Achievement Award, 1992; Washington State Arts Commission Fiction
Fellowship, 1993; Brandeis University Womenís Committee Distinguished
Authorís Award, 1993; Governorís Writers Award, 1993; Seattle University
Award for Professional Achievement, 1994; Granta literary magazineís Best
of Young American Novelists, shortlist, 1995; Barbara Deming Memorial
Fund; Regional Arts and Culture Council Professional Development Grant, 2010;
4Culture Fiction Fellowship, 2012; Artist Trust Centrum Fellowship, 2012.
My fiction and nonfiction have been published in Essence, Ms., Parenting,
American Visions, The Seattle Times, and Goodness Portland; as well as
anthologies such as When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple, The
Bluelight Corner, Spooks, Spies, and Private Eyes, Edgewalking on the
Western Rim, and In Search of Color Everywhere.
New York Foundation for the Arts is the fiscal sponsor for my fourth novel and a
multidisciplinary art project, "Requiem for 10,000 Souls."
My muse is history. The task of healing and reconciling the past, propels
the writing. My tools: word, image, ritual, dream, magic.