(Click HERE for a list of published work.)
I grew up in the Connecticut woods and wetlands, went to college in the Adirondacks, and got my Creative Writing MA in England, where I was born. I’ve lived in various places around the U.S., most recently the suburbs north of Atlanta. It wasn’t until 2010 that I first saw Joshua Tree, in the Mojave desert. Immediately I knew: it was home. It looked like nothing I recognized but I knew. Everything about the high desert is beautiful to me, especially the wide open, blue sky and the silence. I find it simultaneously soothing and inspiring. I can breathe and think.
I’ve had an assortment of jobs which haven’t added up to anything I’d call a career, but they have provided a lot of life experience and writing material: I taught at a group home for troubled children, I dispatched housekeepers in a busy hospital, and I worked in independent bookstores. For a while I ran my own tiny used bookstore in New York’s Hudson Valley. It was there that I found inspiration for what became Not On Fire, Only Dying (Twisted Road Publications, 2015), my debut novel.
I tend to be reflexively empathetic. It’s exhausting, but it has everything to do with what makes me a writer. I feel a kinship with those who are not quite seen or heard. I think a lot of us know that alienation—even if, externally, it seems like we should comfortably fit in. In my writing, I like to explore the restlessness some of us feel, that searching that makes us perpetual outsiders. I want to explore what connects us, what makes it worth picking ourselves up and trying again. How we return to life—“strong at the broken places,” as Hemingway said—is fascinating to me. My writing explores grit and darkness but it remains deeply hopeful and committed to the possibility of redemption. I want my writing to challenge assumptions about everything, especially how we misjudge other people, and how we decide what is honorable or dishonorable.
I like unanswered questions and messy endings, because to me that’s real life. At times, we are all faced with choices, and sometimes we choose wrong. I’m interested in the ways we try to recover from that. We bring all our damage to every decision, and we just do our best. My goal is that readers will believe my characters behaved the only way they knew how.
I write to escape, to belong, and because I can’t stop. Believe it, I’ve tried.
Recently I gave a TED-style talk: “Rejecting the Rules and Criticism that Derail Writers.” The subject is dear to me. I also discussed both my novel Not On Fire, Only Dying and my brand-new, flash fiction chapbook, Swap / Meet. If you have fifteen minutes for my two cents, click below: