Mercedes was raised mostly in the northwestern corner of Indiana, attending grade school and high school in Highland, Indiana. She graduated from Purdue University in 1972 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. This, she soon learned, along with a paper hat and a nametag will qualify you to ask “would you like fries with that?” at a variety of fast-food locations.
After spending time in jobs ranging from artist’s model to lab technician at the Mosquito Genetics Project to short-order cook, she took training and became a computer programmer. About this time she discovered science fiction conventions and the Society for Creative Anachronism, and began attending functions of both, more often in costume than not.
She had always written from her early teens, and developed this hobby by writing fan-fiction for various amateur magazines. In the 1980s she took a job programming computers for a major airline and as a consequence moved to Oklahoma, where she continued to write. At this time she met both Marion Zimmer Bradley (author of The Mists of Avalon), and C.J. Cherryh, both of whom helped mentor her from the ranks of the amateur into those of the professional writers.
In 1985 her first book was published. In 1990 she met artist Larry Dixon at a small science fiction convention in Meridian, Mississippi, on a television interview organized by the convention. They began working together from that time on, and were married in Las Vegas at the Excalibur chapel by Merlin the Magician (aka the Reverend Duckworth) in 1992.
They moved to their current home, the “second weirdest house in Oklahoma” also in 1992. She has many pet parrots and “the house is never quiet.” She has 128 books in print, and publishes between five and six books a year, alone or in collaboration. Some of her foreign editions can be found in Russian, German, Czech, Polish, French, Italian, Turkish, and Japanese. She is the author, alone or in collaboration, of the Heralds of Valdemar, Elemental Masters, Secret World Chronicles, 500 Kingdoms, Diana Tregarde, Heirs of Alexandria, Obsidian Mountain, Dragon Jouster, Bedlam Bards, Shadow Grail, and Hunter and other series and stand-alone books.
She has continued her hobby of costuming, although now she costumes Asian ball-jointed dolls as the characters from her books, because “They don’t yell when you stick pins in them.” She also does needlework and beadwork, sometimes combining these hobbies with her doll-making, usually sending these as gifts or to charity auctions as well. She always has several of these projects going at any one time, because they give her the opportunity to think about her stories while her hands are busy. Occasionally she costumes porcelain dolls as one of her characters to be sent as charity auction pieces. Her current project is a set of Secret World Chronicle dolls.
A nightowl by nature, she is generally found at the keyboard between 10 PM and 6 AM.