First Words

Thanks for visiting. My story collection, Last Words of the Holy Ghost, won the 2015 Katherine Anne Porter Prize for short fiction. The judge, Lee K. Abbott, said, “Listen: if you can find a collection of stories more cohesive, more ambitious in reach, more generous in its passion, and fancier in its footwork, I will buy it for you and deliver it in person.” Thanks, Lee (I hope you won’t have to travel too far)! That water up there? That’s the salt-water tidal creek my cousins and I swam in as children; it runs behind my mother’s house and my grandmother’s house in Brunswick, GA, and it’s a character in my second novel, Our 13th Divorce, published February, 2017. My first novel, How the Sun Shines on Noise, (2004) “…invites comparison’s to John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces….an entertaining and memorable Southern picaresque” (Charlotte Observer).

My first home was North Wilkesboro, NC, in the Blue Ridge mountains where I was born, where my first words were mumbled, where my father’s side of the family still lives and where some of my other writing is set. I see these places more clearly now because of distant places I’ve lived–I earned an MFA from the University of Oregon, and I live now in beautiful western Wisconsin, next to the Mississippi River, where I teach creative writing and literature at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. I live with my partner, Heather, and our many animals (wild and domestic).

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