Born Maia Perizzolo, she shortened her name to Mai legally when she married Rick. Classic Gen-X’er, she was born in 1972 to hippie parents enrolled at Cal Berkeley who then migrated with the back-to-the-land movement to the Northern California idyll of Sonoma County. She grew up in a geodesic dome her parents built from recycled beams and hand-hewed redwood, with solar-powered lights and a composting toilet. The commune was a short drive from Sebastopol up Highway 12 in the Redwoods, called New World Utopia. It attracted dreamy idealists from the city who wanted to get in touch with their inner wa—harmony and peace—with the help of a little LSD, plenty of pot, a couple of hot tubs, and free love.
With both parents Cal alum, she’d had a leg up on getting in, despite—or because of—being home-schooled on the commune. Meeting Rick, with his more “normal” childhood and middle-class personality, Mai fled into his world but never lost her Sonoma roots. When the dot-com bust knocked them out of their yuppie fast-track, they packed up computers, painting canvases, mountain bikes, kayak, boxes and boxes of books, and schlepped to Sonoma.
Mai’s folks had moved on too, transitioning into a local CPA firm servicing the big agriculture families planting grapes and making wine in between the old apple orchards and pot farms. They’d moved into Sebastopol, a trendy laid back quintessential Northern California lifestyle community, bought a house in the historic district and left behind the commune and the geodesic home.
Mai and Rick put first and last month’s rent and deposit on a farmhouse in the middle of an orchard. It belonged to one of Mai’s parents’ clients. Mai found a good location downtown, a hole in the wall, twenty feet wide but sixty feet deep, where she opened a web-design business with her friend, Desiree, from the commune days, and put away her paints for a while. It was 2001, and they were starting over at 28 and 30. What she didn’t yet know was that Rick began working covertly for Homeland Security after 9/11, the same year they moved. That was then, this is now.
As the result of attending a job fair at her alum, Mai Martin travels to a staff position at Beijing University in the Media Communications Department. When she arrives in Beijing, a series of events and clues lead to North Korean mercenaries attempting to lure Rick to campus where they plan to abduct and exchange him for a bounty put up by Iran over a stunt he played on their intranet revealed in the Wikileaks scandal.
In the series, An American in Beijing, Mai Martin works at a Chinese university while Rick continues working for DHS. Over the three volumes, Mai discovers Rick’s deceptions and falls in love with her Chinese security guard, Ronald Zhao. She plunges into joint covert operations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China and synthetic telepathy research. After the series ends, she escapes corrupt officials and gangsters chasing her and flies away to Kyoto with her lover and her husband for a few weeks of R and R before returning to her hometown, Sebastopol, California.
In the Origin series, the story enters the digital age of 2012. Nano technology emerges, promoted by sovereign nations with generous research grants for advancements with military applications. In Book I, Human Hybrids, Mai Martin is the first of her kind, an augmented human, hosting nano-scale bio devices while pregnant and propelling Artificial Intelligence research into ethically questionable fields.