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Bonnie E. Carlson was born and grew up in Central Connecticut. Before her junior year in high school, she had life-changing experience when she was selected to travel to Malaysia and live there with a family. Among other things, it gave her the experience of being in the minority, though white, and learning another language. This adventure led her to major in Asian Studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, providing an opportunity to learn about the Midwest.

After completing a master's degree in social work and a Ph.D. in Social Work and Developmental Psychology, also at the University of Michigan, she became a professor at the University at Albany, State University New York, where she remained for 28 years. There she taught graduate social work students and conducted research on domestic violence, child abuse, sibling sexual abuse, the impact of incarceration on families, and related topics. Toward the end of her tenure there, her focus shifted to studying factors affecting relapse in women trying to recover from drug and alcohol abuse.

After falling in love with the desert in Scottsdale and Phoenix, AZ, she took a faculty position at Arizona State University, where she stayed until she retired.

After retiring, she pivoted to writing fiction. Her short fiction has been published in literary magazines such as The Normal School, The Broadkill Review, Foliate Oak, Down in the Dirt, Across the Margin, and Blue Lake Review. In 2020, Adelaide Books published her debut novel, Radical Acceptance, and in 2021 her short story collection, No Strangers to Pain, was released by Adelaide.

Now she lives with her husband, dog, and cat in Scottsdale, AZ and writes fiction and hikes to her heart's content in the beautiful Sonoran Desert.