First came Pam Binder’s imaginary friend – a dragon – when she was three. Five years later the precocious child tumbled down a flight of stairs and had a near-death, out-of-body experience. And always, in the background, influencing the girl who would one day become a nationally bestselling author was her eccentric, artistic grandmother. During Binder’s formative years, New Orleans’ Irene Zollinger took delight in exposing her granddaughter to the joy of the arts and the mystique of the historic French Quarter.
Looking back, Pam Binder knows that, by the time she was nine years old and attending New Orleans’ 200-year-old Ursuline Academy, the die was cast. As a result of these unique, early life influences on her impressionable mind, she was destined to cultivate her God-given talent as a writer, in a most unusual style. One day she would gift readers across the country with unique stories richly textured with time-bending flights of fantasy, other-worldliness and a reverence for history.
This trademark style of Binder’s fiction has enabled her, early in her career, to achieve bestseller success that most writers only dream about. An anthology containing a Pam Binder story – a time-travel novella that swept readers from present-day Edinburgh to medieval Scotland – scored on the prestigious New York Times bestseller list in December 2000. That novella, amazingly only her third published work of fiction, would give notice to readers and booksellers that they could count on her for stories that stretched the imagination – and made them chuckle. For the niche she has carved for herself in women’s fiction, RT BOOKclub has dubbed her, “The New Queen of Highland Time Travel.”
“My mom grew up in New Orleans, where she met my dad when he was stationed there in World War II,” explained Binder, who now lives in Issaquah, WA. “I was lucky to spend my early years in the French Quarter, under the influence of my Grandmother Irene Zollinger, who lived on Napoleon Avenue. Deeply engrossed in the arts, she was a poet, painter, had an operatic quality voice, played the piano and was listed in Who’s Who of American Women. She also had very definite opinions about what women could achieve if they set their minds to it. When we moved to the Pacific Northwest and I wrote to her, she sent my letters back with the spelling and grammar corrected, each time with five dollars for the ‘kitty’ she insisted every woman should have.”
No doubt Binder’s grandmother would be delighted to know that today her manuscripts arrive on her New York editor’s desk fastidiously self-edited. Unfortunately, Binder’s grandmother died before her protégé sold her first novel, THE INSCRIPTION, in 1997, to a small press. THE INSCRIPTION is the story of a contemporary American teacher who is swept back into the mystery, romance and adventure of 16th century Scotland. There she meets her destiny with a clan of immortals, who are convinced she is the embodiment of an ancient Celtic legend.
Binder broke into the highly competitive world of commercial, paperback fiction after Liza Dawson, an agent she met in 1998 at a Pacific Northwest Writers Association conference, read Pam’s first novel non-stop on the flight back to New York. “I found myself laughing, enjoying it,” the agent recalls. As a result, Dawson phoned Binder the next morning and offered to represent her. The agent soon sold the mass market paperback rights of THE INSCRIPTION and Binder’s second hardcover medieval time travel, THE QUEST, to Pocket Books.
THE QUEST finds a Celtic sorceress casting a spell to conjure up a warrior who must do battle to free her mother. But the warrior she gets isn’t the legendary hero she expects but the star quarterback for Seattle’s professional football team. Laced with humor, THE QUEST was a finalist for two prestigious honors: RT BOOKclub’s Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Innovative Historical Romance and the Greater Detroit Romance Writers of America Booksellers’ Best Award for Outstanding Time Travel Novel.
Binder’s third novel, THE ENCHANTMENT (Pocket Books, September 2001), is also a Highland time travel that helped her identify the recurring theme in her novels, “Time is an illusion, and love, the only reality.” Based on Celtic lore, the theme is not only a literary vehicle for Binder but a personal belief as well.
A stickler for authenticity, Binder has traveled to Scotland and Ireland, where she has conducted research. Her fascination with historical matters, and perhaps with the covert-type adventures which also characterize her books, began when she moved to Aberdeen, Washington, at age 17. There she took three history classes from the same teacher, who was rumored to be a CIA agent, working undercover.
“He was a brilliant man,” Binder remembers. “As he lectured, he showed us slides from literally every country in the world, which he had traveled, and the history of all those countries came alive for me.” The summer after Binder graduated, she read in the newspaper that the teacher was murdered on a train on his way to France, “and I thought maybe the rumors about him were true after all!”
Binder continued to study history at the University of Oregon and married in 1968. “Writing was always easy for me, but it wasn’t until I got to college that I realized I could write differently from other people.” After a hiatus to raise her three children, Binder attended a romance writers’ conference “That’s when I told myself, ‘This is silly. You need to be writing.’” She subsequently enrolled in commercial fiction writing classes at the University of Washington’s extension division. In 1997, her novel, THE INSCRIPTION, was published by Goodfellow Press. She now serves on the advisory board for the University’s writers’ program.
Binder and her husband of 33 years are the parents of three grown children. Like their parents, the Binder offspring are athletic and academically gifted – and blessed that mom and dad have been active in their children’s school systems. Pam recently resigned from the post as office manager for Chinook Middle School to write full time. When not writing, she enjoys snow skiing, reading and hiking. Currently, she is working on her fourth novel, NOW AND FOREVER, a romantic time travel set in medieval Ireland.