Before starting A Novel Life in 1996, I was a reporter for daily newspapers in Annapolis, Maryland and Washington, D.C. I covered families, medicine and education and especially enjoyed the rare occasion when I was given writing space to explore complicated concepts and characters. I wrote a story about a big, loving family that continued getting together for Sunday dinner every week, long after their 10 children had grown up. They commissioned my first biography, “The Big Boss,” about their patriarch, a bricklayer with a 6th-grade education whose family business had recently gone public on the New York Stock Exchange. The Big Boss has since passed away, as have many of the people who filled the pages of his book. But his story lives on, as do the stories of dozens of others whose lives are now A Novel Life page-turners.