Rosenberg, 48, started writing seriously in 1991
after a six-year stint as a Ventura, Calif., law enforcement officer.
Her three legal thrillers - Mitigating Circumstances, Interest
Of Justice, and First Offense, all based on actual cases - have
caused her to be compared with the likes of Scott Turow and have
all been best-sellers, leaving her room to take risks. Rosenberg's
latest novel, California Angel (Dutton), ventures far from the
formula that has brought her
success. "It's about a dying woman who finds
she can perform miracles," says the author.
Her muse this time was Janelle Garcia, 18, born
with a deadly genetic disorder that usually claims its victims
in infancy. Known as MMA, short for methylmalonic acidemia, the
disease causes the body to convert protein into a toxin similar
to antifreeze. Janelle, who lives in Santa Ana, Calif., with her
severely arthritic mother and has been tube-fed most of her life,
has survived longer than any other known MMA patient. "Janelle
is so courageous," says Rosenberg, who became the teenager's
friend and benefactor after Rosenberg's rabbi introduced them
in 1992. "You can feel a divine presence around her."
says Janelle, who is often