Welcome to my website. Inside you will find information about my past and future novels, reviews, suggestions for research, and my philosophy about rendering the essentials of legends and myths into historical fiction. I hope you will find browsing through the site enjoyable and informative.longhouse

Not long ago, a fan wrote to tell me she reads my books and imagines sitting at a campfire hearing me tell her stories. I’d rather imagine we were sitting on the bed bench of an Iroquois longhouse on a cold and windy winter evening. The coals in the fire pits are glowing. We are warm and safe while I tell you stories of a long ago time in places you never imagined, places that were once real. Whether the characters come from my mind or from legend, I’m happy to be sharing them with you.

Penina’s Bio

PeninaKeenSpinka-3I’ve been writing stories since about 3rd grade, but I made my first sale in 1990 with WHITE HARE’S HORSES. I joined a hiking club in the late 1900s. Our leader, Milt McAuley, used to tell us stories about the Chumash tribe who lived in the Santa Monica Mountains of Coastal Southern California. I then felt a connection and wanted to know more about them. That was the beginning of my professional career.

I’ve been interested in legends and myths since as long as I’ve been writing. When I read Mary Renault’s THE KING MUST DIE, I became as immersed in ancient times as any reader can get. To me, Mary Renault owns ancient Greece and Crete. I compare any story of those times with hers. Therefore, when I began to write, I picked a location far away from those places. I wanted to write in fresh territory. I lived in Southern California while I wrote WHITE HARES HORSES and MOTHER’S BLESSING. It was the perfect location for my first two novels.

When I moved to Saratoga, NY, I felt lost without a writers’ group. I proceeded to look for one as soon as I unpacked. The group I found had members both creative and helpful. They suggested I learn about the Native American people of the area. These turned out to be the Mohawk, the easternmost tribe of the Iroquois. I had recently read Jane Smiley’s THE GREENLANDERS. Her novel inspired my interest in Norse Greenland. I joined “Friends of the Circle” in Albany, NY to increase my knowledge of the Iroquois and Algonquin cultures.

I combined my two areas of study in PICTURE MAKER. A Mohawk girl coming to live in Christian Greenland in the 1300s led to all kinds of ideas. DREAM WEAVER followed the final year of the Greenlander settlement through Ingrid, her daughter. Last of my Norse/Mohawk trilogy HIDDEN IN MIST is still in marketing. It follows Ole Halverson, Picture Maker’s stepson into the forests of the New World. Through the love of Jekonsaseh and the magic of Hidden in Mist, he too, becomes part of the legend.

Penina_SpinkaFor my most recent project, WITCHES & PROPHETS, I looked into my own culture and history. I wondered what happened when the Israelites first crossed that Jordan River and had to contend with the priestesses of Astarte. The Canaanite version is not given in Scriptures. I enjoyed being in their heads so they could tell me their version of the story. WITCHES & PROPHETS is also in marketing.

Visiting locations as they once were is not possible, but delving through the history of times, places and people is a must for the writer of historical fiction. See my article on historical research in the Articles section of this site.

I live in Sun City, Arizona now, with my husband and two cats. I still work at my craft and am proud to be one of the founding members of our local Writers Roundtable.

On my spare time, I volunteer for Recording for The Blind and Dyslexic.

Best wishes,