I have always been a storyteller. Growing up in Mississippi if someone said, “You’re telling a story,” by story she meant an elaborate, embellished lie dressed up to look like truth. I was full of stories, even back then. They poured out as I walked home with friends from school and flowed through my head as I lay on my back in my yard watching the stars when the world was asleep.
I honed my skills by listening. Eavesdropping on my mother and her friends as they straightened each other's hair in the kitchen or shelled peas on the porch, I listened to them narrate the events of their lives to each other. I listened to the stories they concocted to teach us lessons in life. And I read every kind of story I could get my hands on, from fairy tales to my mother’s Book-of-the-Month selections to 300-page classics I checked out from the library, in spite of the librarian who couldn't resist raising an eyebrow at me over the rim of her cat-eye glasses.
Over the years, family and friends went from saying, “Girl, quit telling stories,” to asking,
Will you tell us a story?
I didn't think of writing stories down until I got an “A” on a poem written for my eight grade English class. I realized then that writing my ideas down could have its benefits. When it came time to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer was easy—a writer.
I went to Northeastern University and got a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. By day I was the “eyes and ears of the public,” and by night I wrote fiction. I carried this out for a good many years, writing for the Boston Globe and later for United Way, Boston College and MIT. After a time, feeling myself getting farther and farther away from the kind of writing I loved the most, I left my day job to enroll in the Master of Fine Arts program at Mills College in California. At Mills I completed my first novel which wound up in the bottom of a drawer. A few years later, while working full time as a writing Instructor in California, I published a handful of short stories and finished novel number two.
I’m over-joyed to say that novel number two won the Lee Smith Novel Prize at Carolina Wren Press, the IP Book Awards silver medal for best Southern Fiction 2016, and was a Finalist for the Crook's Corner Book Prize 2017. It is available for purchase through Carolina Wren Press, on Amazon, and in bookstores across the country.