Marie was born in Carmel, California to a Japanese mother and American father. Her mother and father met in Vienna, Austria, where both were studying music. Because German was the only language her parents shared in common, Marie grew up speaking Japanese with her mother, and German with both her parents, only learning English once she started school. Through numerous trips to Japan, Marie developed a deep love of her mother's homeland. Her father, an Asian art collector and restorer, taught her the value of beautiful things.
Marie graduated from Columbia University with a degree in East Asian Languages and Civilizations. In her thesis, "Shamanism in Japan," she explored the powerful role that women have played in developing Japan's indigenous religion of Shinto. Her work often focuses on the intersection between spirituality and modernity, and the manner in which Japan and America, the world's two richest countries, have responded to unprecedented materialism and success.
Marie has written about video games for The Millions and the discomfort of being a debut novelist (and being uninvited to read in New York) at The Nervous Breakdown. She has explored the issue of weight loss for Salon, and the culture of tsunamis in Japan for the National Geographic. For the past two years she has been working on her forthcoming memoir, Where the Dead Pause and the Japanese Say Goodbye.
In her spare time, Marie loves to take dance class, read, travel, study languages, knit, and enjoy old and new friends. Occasionally, she updates her blog.