|Kristin Hannah has told interviewers, "I'm endlessly fascinated by the relationships that define us," and she has channeled that fascination into several best-selling novels that explore family, friendship, and romance. Generally categorized as a writer of "contemporary women's fiction," Hannah has earned legions of loyal fans. A native of Southern California, Hannah spent much of her childhood at the beach. When she was eight, the family moved to Washington State. She began her professional career in the 1980s at an advertising agency but soon decided to attend law school instead. While she was in her final year of school, her mother was in the final stages of battling breast cancer. Wanting to spend as much time as possible together, the two began researching and outlining what Hannah has called "the worst, most clichéd historical romance ever written." After her mother died, she put the materials in the back of her closet, forgetting all about the saga, which was set in 19th-century Scotland. After a few years of practicing entertainment and anti-trust law, Hannah, who had subsequently married, became pregnant and was confined to bed. Restless and bored, she became hooked on daytime television. Her concerned husband reminded her about the unfinished manuscript and suggested that she might find writing a more fulfilling sedentary activity than watching game shows. By the time her son was born, Hannah has said, she knew for sure "I wanted to be a stay-at-home mother, and I needed to write." A string of rejection notices followed, but in 1991 Hannah published her first novel, A HANDFUL OF HEAVEN, a romance set in 19th-century Yukon Territory. She wrote several more romances before turning to contemporary women's fiction in 1999, with ON MYSTIC LAKE, the tale of a woman who returns to her hometown and reconnects with her first love, now a widower with a troubled daughter. Hannah has since become known for her sensitive examinations of what she has called the "universal female connections" of marriage, motherhood, sisterhood, and friendship.