Sally Wright is the author of six Ben Reese mysteries: Publish And Perish, Pride And Predator, Pursuit And Persuasion (a Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe Award Finalist in 2001), Out Of The Ruins, Watches Of The Night (published in June 2008) and Code Of Silence, a prequel to the series (published in December 2008).
Wright was born obsessed with books, and started pecking-out florid adventure stories with obvious endings by the time she turned seven. She wrote and performed music in high school and college, earned a degree in oral interpretation of literature at Northwestern University, and then completed graduate work at the University of Washington. She published many biographical articles, including pieces on Malcolm Muggeridge and Nikolai Tolstoy, Leo's grandnephew, before she wrote her Ben Reese books.
Reviewers repeatedly compare Wright's work to that of Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Josephine Tey, Margery Allingham, and Ngaio Marsh. Wright herself says that her literary influences range from all of those to Tolstoy and Jane Austen, from P.D. James to Dick Francis.
And yet it's C.S. Lewis who's probably influenced me most, through the whole body of his work, as a thinker, a person, and a writer," says Wright. "In his Chronicles of Narnia and his metaphysical novels, The Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters, he uses popular fiction to talk about what T.S. Eliot called 'the permanent things'— consideration of morality, of origin, and spiritual meaning. It was those books that started me thinking about writing mysteries to begin with."
Many reviewers consider Ben Reese an unusually believable and intriguing character, and Wright says she works really hard to try to create fictional people like that. "I want to make real, compelling characters and let them get caught in complex tangles of good and evil that could actually happen in real life. I want to create settings too that readers can see and experience. Settings are very important to me. They're almost like characters in the books."
In order to attempt to do any of that, Wright does substantial research—traveling, interviewing, sometimes even trying to "live" the lives of her characters, which reviewers say give Wright's books a strong sense of accuracy and authenticity. Wright says the research makes her own life more interesting too.
Sally Wright moved with her husband many years ago from Cape Cod to the country near Bowling Green, Ohio, but they think they'd like to someday live outside Lexington, Kentucky. Their daughter is an opera singer (a la Out of the Ruins), and their son works for a industrial manufacturing company. The Wrights have a young boxer dog, a young mare (who’s a lot less reliable than the old one-eyed gelding), and too many gardens to take care of the way Sally would like. She loves to cook, and wants to play with painting again, if she ever stops trying to learn dressage.