A native of Ashtabula, Ohio, Martell spent her childhood Christmases on the banks of Lake Erie, where she imagined Santa flying in over the frozen lake. After the death of her father, Martell moved to northern California with her mother and brother. A graduate of Stanford University, she majored in both international relations and Spanish.
Martell raised three daughters before her midlife crisis prompted her to return to school, where she studied to become a court reporter. After she retired to the Sandhills of North Carolina and realized she would never break 100 on the golf course, she settled down to writing.
Martell’s first book, Millie-Christine, is the story of Siamese twins born into slavery who traveled throughout Europe and the United States and ultimately performed for royalty. Kirkus Reviews called it “just the kind of intimately scaled, quirky, obsessively detailed profile of a life and times that make the better regional histories such a pleasure.”
Over the years, Martell has has lived in California, Ecuador, Pennsylvania, Mexico, and Ohio. She and her husband now live in Southern Pines, North Carolina, where they are both local shuffleboard champions.