|While she is best known for writing light-hearted novels filled with quirky characters from the Deep South, Mary Kay Andrews has had a more varied writing career than many realize. Born Kathy Hogan Trocheck in St. Petersburg, Florida, she was part of a large, Catholic family. She attended Pinellas County public schools and, as she has quipped to interviewers, she once completed a charm-school course run by the Maas Brothers department-store chain. In 1976 she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and soon embarked on a career with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Among the major stories she covered was the murder trial of Savannah native Jim Williams. (The case later provided the inspiration for John Berendt's book MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL.) With two small children to care for, in the early 1990s she made the move into fiction, reasoning that it would allow her to work from home and afford her greater flexibility. She first wrote several mysteries under her given name, most featuring Atlanta-cop-turned-housecleaner Callahan Garrity, and when she decided to switch genres after a decade, she created her pseudonym by combining the names of her children, Andrew and Mary Kathleen. Andrews is an avid practitioner of a hobby she calls "junking," which involves combing flea markets and thrift stores for possible treasures, and SAVANNAH BLUES (2001), the first book written under her new moniker, featured Weezy Foley, an irrepressible "junker." Her subsequent books, many of which have landed on the bestseller list, have included equally colorful protagonists. "Since I've never lived anywhere outside the South, I don't know what normal looks like," Andrews has joked. "[Here] we don't just accept eccentricities, we celebrate them."