Cathryn Clinton received her bachelor's degree in English from the University of Iowa and her master of fine arts degree from Vermont College. Her first novel, THE CALLING, was published in 2001. AboutA STONE IN MY HAND she says, "While in graduate school in 1998 I had a writing assignment: choose a picture of someone and write about that person. In an article about Gaza in National Geographic, I saw a picture of a young Palestinian girl holding a bird in her hand. There was a look of strength in her face. This intrigued me, and I wondered how this girl had survived both internally and externally when the conditions of her growing up years were so harsh. So I sat down and began writing the story of Malaak."