Meet Our Staff

Barbara Peters – Store Owner & Event Coordinator

Barbara Peters was born in Evanston, raised in Winnetka, Illinois,spent way too much time in graduate school, and founded The Poisoned Pen in 1989. With her husband Robert Rosenwald, she gambled on Poisoned Pen Press in 1997 where she is Editor in chief. Barbara has won the Raven and Quill Awards from the Mystery Writers of America (and been nominated for an Edgar for Best Biographical Work) and is a Bouchercon Fan Guest of Honor and Lifetime Achievement honoree as well as a lifetime honoree from Malice Domestic. Meaning she’s turning into an antique…

Patrick Millikin – Bookseller

It’s hard to believe I’ve been here at the PP since 1995, but I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I’m just not cut out for a traditional job.  I was born in Los Angeles but have been here in Arizona since I was three years old, so I’m close to being a native. I’m the big noir fan here on the staff but I read widely and my tastes are constantly evolving. When I’m not here I enjoy working on various DIY projects on the 1920′s house where I live with my wife, Sandra, and a whole brood of animals.  I’ve become an amateur mechanic in my spare time and I enjoy working on cars, including a 1960 Cadillac. I also like writing, editing and playing bad guitar. I’ve also recently gotten back into skateboarding, with mixed results.

John Goodwin – Chief Financial Officer


I lived my early life in Ohio and Pennsylvania and moved to Arizona thirty years ago. I have been interested in books all my life, in fact, my employment at one valley bookstore chain virtually paid for my college education at Arizona State University. I have been involved in politics and real estate but have returned to my roots. My reading is diverse, usually literature or history, or gritty well written mysteries that have well developed characters and locales.

David Brooks – Order Processing Manager

My love of reading came from my father, who read constantly. Agatha Christie was always his long time favorite, so her books always lined the bookshelves. Indeed, the first ‘adult’ book I ever read was Christie’s, The A.B.C. Murders. Of course, dad had to help me with the Belgian/French phrasing, but I got through it in the end, and it still remains as one of my favorite books of all time. As for my current crop of authors, Peter Lovesey, Christopher Fowler and Camilla Lackberg are who I collect, but I also read everything that’s published by Peter Robinson and Peter James.

 John Charles – Bookseller

Born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, John moved to Arizona in the 1970s where he attended college and eventually received his MLS from the University of Arizona. After working in public libraries for more than thirty years, John “retired” and came to work for the Poisoned Pen, where he enjoys being around books and people who love them.

Patrick King – Bookseller


I started working at the Poisoned Pen as an intern back in 1999 when friend and former employee, Patricia, introduced me to Barbara and the store.  I interned through college and graduate school, and started part time back in 2008.  Since then, I get the chance to talk with readers about books and what’s good to read. Quite the dream job!

As the Science Fiction/Fantasy selector, I get to read and select some of the best and newest in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Urban Fantasy.  Some of my favorite current SFF authors include Kevin Hearne, Terry Pratchett, Ann Leckie and Brandon Sanderson.    For Mystery and Thriller, Ian Rankin, Nick Petrie, John D. McDonald and David Morrell have written some of my all time favorites!  When I’m not here at the store or reading, I’m either at the day job, the movies or video gaming.

Rene Johnson – Bookseller

A roundabout sort of serendipity seems to have landed me at the Poisoned Pen after a decade-long career in graphic design and print-production.

The unique brand of company found in the staff and customers at the Poisoned Pen seems quite natural after having grown up surrounded by tall bookshelves packed full with the likes of Sue Grafton, Ngaio Marsh, Agatha Christie, etc. (and having been raised by the kinds of people who  maintain such shelves). Reading was never an option in my family, it was — and remains — a natural part of life.

Somewhere down the line I managed to trip over Alan Dean Foster (still my favorite, for many reasons) and fall into a hole of science fiction reading with brief interludes of the occasional classic fiction novel. When looking for something that is “well-written” I tend towards writing that maintains a conceptual subtext, interesting use of language, and preferably a healthy dose of good dry humor.

A California native, I landed in Arizona after traveling around the country with my significant other, a cat, a dog, and an interactive art piece. When not working at the Pen or on freelance design work, I strive to encourage collaboration and interactivity through art and skill sharing.

Tracy Kingsley – Bookseller


Before I joined the Poisoned Pen staff, I had been a customer for years.  I first started coming to the store to attend author signings and got caught up in all things Poisoned Pen.  For a book lover, this store is like cat nip to a cat.

I worked at a public library for 12 years but am now in recovery (don’t worry, I don’t own a gun). I enjoy the fact that I now have time to actually talk about books with people while working.  I’ve been an avid reader since grade 1 (go spot!) and a fairly dedicated mystery reader for about 15 years now.  I love so many authors and books that it is impossible for me to pick favorites, but I always recommend wonderful writers like John Connolly, Greg Rucka, Dana Stabenow, A.E. Maxwell, Thomas Perry, Donald Westlake, Ross Thomas, Elmore Leonard, and . . . . . this list could be endless.
I am also a movie buff. I really have no other hobbies since I am a complete klutz and have injured myself trying to learn new things (my husband said no more sharp objects). So reading and movies are my comfort zone – quiet and immobile.

 Sharon Leonard- Bookseller


‘Born in Sharon, North Dakota and retired to Arizona, with stops along the way in Lincoln, Nebraska; Staten Island, New York; Chicago, Illinois and Minneapolis, Minnesota.  ‘Have always been a reader once I finally learned how after being forced into it when my older sister and parents refused to read the comics to me any longer!  My Mom was an English teacher and our family did not have a television until I was in high school so reading was the family hobby.  My parents – when I was a teen – bribed me to start reading the classics by paying me a quarter for every classic read.  My first was “Jane Eyre” and I was entranced – a lunatic in the attic, pretty heady stuff for a sheltered 13-year old preacher’s kid!

I read fiction with an occasional memoir (“Hunger” by Roxanne Gay was excellent) or bio thrown in, and non fiction when something is highly recommended such as recent favorites “The Boys in the Boat” and “Unbroken.”  
Often expressed throughout my 44-year career as an Administrative Assistant was my wish to work in either a flower shop or a book store after retirement.  After moving to Phoenix in June of 2017, that wish has come true and I couldn’t be happier to work at The Poisoned Pen! 

Susan Kelly – Sidelines Genius and Twitter Maven

A Michigan native, Susan moved to Arizona from Detroit, where she worked for the Detroit Public Library. She misses water but not winter. When she isn’t reading or working, she enjoys eating, drinking, cooking, and traveling.

Karen Shaver – Bookseller

karen shaver

I started out in Minnesota and lived in other northern states, as well. After college, I got married, had kids, and tried to master the art of living on nine acres of land. I learned the challenges and humor in planting my first vegetable garden, failed to tame a temperamental Shetland pony named Flicka, but was successful in repairing an electric fence without harm to self or others. My careers have included retail, print production, magazine layout and typesetting. All of which led me to a book addiction, thus, the bookstore. After a few years, I went back to graduate school, earned a degree, and immersed myself in the world of Community Behavioral Health. In 2007 I suffered a serious brain injury that put me in a medically induced coma for a while and my children became my parents. I credit them and their persistent advocacy for my medical care, in making sure I didn’t leave them permanently. Barbara graciously let me come back to the bookstore where I am now engaged in “book therapy”. I have learned that God really does have a sense of humor and I’ll be fine if I just get out of my own way.

Ian Schiefelbein – Shipping & Receiving Associate