Therese Fowler was born in Illinois in 1967. Youngest of three children, and the only girl, she grew up insisting that being a girl was for sissies. She spent her free time roaming the forests and cornfields and neighbourhoods near her home, reading whatever books she could get her hands on. She married her high school sweetheart in 1985 and her then-husband enlisted in the US Air Force, initiating a four-year period of adventure and misadventure. They went to northern Texas, then on to the Philippines for a three-year tour of duty when Therese was just nineteen. Therese got pregnant with her first child in late ’89 and gave birth in 1990. She had a second child in 1993. As a poor-but-devoted at-home mom, she spent much of 1990-1997 changing diapers, reading
to her boys, wiping messy hands, and jotting ideas for stories in notebooks. Her real-life saga was chronicled in journals-a useful experience to draw on later, for SOUVENIR. Therese split from her husband in 1997 and enrolled at North Carolina State University as a full-time student, and majored in Sociology and Anthropology. While a student, she met and married (in 1999) a terrific man who was a neighbour at her apartment complex, inheriting two more sons in the process. She graduated from NCSU in Dec 2000, having earned summa cum laude honours and her department’s Highest Scholastic Achievement Award. Therese’s first year in grad school was a tumultuous one: in late ’03 her father-in-law took ill and died in December. At the same time, her mother was diagnosed with bladder cancer. In late January, following an unsuccessful surgery, her mother came to stay with Therese in order to try new treatments at Duke University Hospital. Though no cure was expected, the treatments were having good effect and the prognosis was that her mother might gain a year or two of comfortable living. However, she died quite suddenly (but mercifully in her sleep), in March ’04-likely from sudden heart attack or pulmonary embolism. Therese was home alone when she discovered her mother, a fact for which she’s grateful. In late 2004, when Therese had been in grad school for a little over a year, the school won approval for a new creative writing MFA program. She applied and was admitted into the first class of approximately 12 fiction writers. To earn the MFA, a student must produce either a substantial short-story collection or a novel. In December ’05, as she was about to receive her degree, she began the agent-query process. Initial queries yielded much interest, with four agents requesting she send the manuscript. The winning agent was Wendy Sherman, who contacted Therese on Christmas Eve day to say she hoped she could be the One. After some near misses and a lot of high praise from interested editors, Therese (who loves a good love story) set out to write Souvenir.