The Author


It’s said that writers are always telling their own stories, no matter the cast of characters in their books.  I believe that’s true.  Sometimes, though, it helps to learn a little bit about a writer’s actual life, and these are snippets of mine.

A Navy brat, I was born in Orlando, Florida, grew up in Canada and Texas, and lived in Mexico, Washington DC, Pennsylvania, California, Nebraska, and Oregon, before settling in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  My ancestors are Celtic and Native American, a genetic combination that may have influenced the creation of Healing Art©, a form of shamanic art making that helped me heal from cancer back in the early 1980s.   Certainly that particular experience inspired the founding of  Orenda Healing International (OHI), our 501.c.3 nonprofit organization that supports individual and communal health and well being.  OHI has been based in Santa Fe, NM since 1993.  We’ve recently expanded our mission to include research in the growing field of alternative healing and are in the process of updating our website.

I am a psychologist with a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, a Masters in Counseling Psychology, and a PhD in Transpersonal Psychology (both from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, California).  I’ve taught for ITP, Southwestern College in Santa Fe, and currently teach for Cherry Hill Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina.  In addition to teaching, I have a private practice in shamanic healing and wellness counseling in Santa Fe.

I’ve published online, in popular and scholarly journals, and am celebrating the recent release of the 3rd edition of The River Goddess & Other Stories (Sunstone Press 2015),  Book I in my magic realism/fantasy series, The Alyssa Chronicles.  Book II, Starfriends, will soon be published, and I’m currently working on Book III.

I’m married to fellow artist Lewis Riddell.  We’re both passionate about nature photography, art, good films and theater,  gourmet cooking, our two grown daughters and five grandchildren, our cats Trici and Pavlo, and adventure.  To quote from the working title of Book III, life has been a long strange trip– but fascinating so far!

Valentine McKay-Riddell, PhD, MACP