[Ayelet Waldman], 38, writes what she knows: motherhood and the courtroom, Hancock Park and Berkeley. A former federal public defender in Los Angeles and the author of the Mommy-Track Mystery series, Waldman is also the mother of four children, ages 6 months to 8 years. In her spare time, she teaches a seminar on the legal and social implications of the war on drugs at UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall law school. She also helps her husband with his writing projects (Mr. Waldman is Michael Chabon, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001 for his novel "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay").
In 1992, a friend set Waldman up on a blind date with a young novelist. Like any good lawyer, Waldman did her research first, reading Chabon's "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh," a coming-of-age story whose bisexual hero gave the author a devoted gay following.
Waldman's neighborhood is the setting for "Daughter's Keeper," the story of a cockeyed optimist named Olivia who gets mixed up in the high-stakes world of international drug dealing. Olivia drops out of college and backpacks through Mexico where she has a fling with a labor organizer named Jorge. One day, Jorge turns up on Olivia's Oakland doorstep.