D.A. Bartley is short for Donna Alison Bartley. Alison decided to use this pen name because (1) Alison was named after her grandma Alice Donna who, along with Alison’s mom, shared a lifelong love of mysteries, (2) her married name is long and impossible to pronounce, and (3) D.A. Bartley just sounds like a good name for a mystery writer.
Alison was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, where her dad was studying linguistics at the time. Her parents moved back to Ogden, Utah, when she was two (which is why Alison does not have a charming Scottish accent). When she was ten, her family moved to France, and when she was eleven they moved to Germany. Her family returned to Salt Lake City where Alison went to high school. (Go Olympus Titans!)
Alison attended Boston University, but the need to travel was in her blood and she spent her junior year abroad. She moved to Leningrad, USSR, in 1991, and moved from St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1992. The following summer she pretended to study French in Paris, but mostly drank black coffee at sidewalk cafés and did some serious people watching.
After college, Alison went on to get her Ph.D. in political science (her dissertation focussed on how countries used the concept of sovereignty in legal disputes) and a J.D. both from the University of Pennsylvania. She then moved with her husband to New York City where she practiced law and spent time as a research scholar writing academic papers.
Alison has lived in Manhattan longer than she has any other place on the planet, but she still finds it hard to navigate without mountains. She and her husband live with their teenage daughter and son on the Upper East Side. Alison is a firm believer that a big bowl of popcorn constitutes a meal.