I became a fan of writer Karen Essex when I saw her speak at our college. What is she doing now?
—Bruce F., New York
The novelist and screenwriter recently released two novels about the life of Cleopatra, Kleopatra and Pharoah. She spent five years researching the life of the Egyptian queen before writing one word. "I knew that contemporary women would identify with her and her situation," she explains. "Like us, she had to make it in a man's world. Kleopatra (the original Greek spelling of Cleopatra) was one of the major political players of her day, not to mention a devoted mother of four. Today's Super Mom has much more in common with Kleopatra than you'd think." Los Angeles-based Essex also is a super single mom to her daughter Olivia, 16, an actress and model. "She's underage, so I have to stay very involved in her career too." Warner Bros. is turning Essex's books into a movie, so she's working on that screenplay as well as several others. "I'm negotiating now for the life rights to a World War II spy who infiltrated the very deepest inner circle of the Nazis," she says. "And I'm working on a book about Alexander the Great, bringing to light some aspects of his story that have remained unexamined." When she's not writing, the New Orleans native is obsessively reading. "I also love to travel, but it's impossible for me to take a vacation because every place I go inspires me to write something else!"