After graduating from Hillsborough High School, Maryhelen Clague (Ashley Snow) headed for Tallahassee to earn a degree in music from Florida State University. From there she went to an Episcopal seminary in New York City, where she got a master's degree in religious education.
Working for churches in the Hudson River region of New York, she met and married her husband. She continued to work in religious education while raising their son and daughter. Then, in her 40s, she took a writing class at Briarcliff College. She received an offer from romance publisher Zebra to write historical romances. Clague says, "They told me their books were pretty explicit, pretty racy, and they said, "Can you do that?' I said, "Well, I've read enough of them.' "
She wrote eight, under the pseudonym Ashley Snow. "Well, you know, my husband was a Episcopal priest, so I couldn't use my own name for those!"
Twelve years ago, Maryhelen Clague stopped writing novels. She had published 16 books in as many years, researching and writing them while raising two kids and working as a religious educator. "I was tired."
When she and her husband, William, a retired Episcopal priest, moved to Zephyrhills five years ago to live closer to their daughter, they left behind the home, on Lake Roberta, her family had owned for 60 years. Now, the Clagues live in a tidy new subdivision. The view from their living room is a quiet pond ringed with grandfather oaks. Sepia portraits of Clague's maternal great-grandmothers gaze down from one wall, and photos of her three grandchildren gather nearby.