PATRICIA COLLINS WREDE was born in Chicago, the oldest of five children. She attended Carleton College in Minnesota, where she majored in biology and managed to avoid taking any English courses. She began work on her first novel, Shadow Magic (1982), after graduation, though it took her five years to finish it. Ms. Wrede enjoyed a successful career as a financial analyst, but she always made time to write. Her published books now total more than a dozen.