Winona Sullivan (1943-2004) was born in New York and was awarded a BA in political science from Manhattan College then a MA in Education from New York University. She did some work as a fashion model then studied Russian at the University of Leningrad before writing a letter to the CIA, asking if she could join them. She spent two years with them during the 1960s as a Russian intelligence analyst, but even her son knows little about her activities as an agent.
She went on to bring up seven children, and wrote a large number of short stories and poetry in addition to the Sister Cecile Mysteries and a book on how to be a mother. She taught at several colleges, but was also very enthusiastic about teaching high school students and teaching English as a second language to immigrants. She was very faithful to her religion and volunteered as a religious education teacher for most of her life. Although she was a non-smoker, she died of lung cancer in 2004.