I was born in 1939 in Charleston, West Virginia. Though I didn’t discover writing until much later in my life, I was a lover of books. A long-term thumb-sucker who could be happy for hours off in stories. My favorites were usually English orphans or a girl in the limberlost, characters wronged by people I loathed. Though finally I overcame my attraction to Rhett Butler, I’m still leaning into some of the after-shocks. I grew up under the care of a strong mother, also a lover of books, a person who always encouraged me. The kind of woman who was able to run the night infirmary on the 17th floor in one of Pratt’s dormitories after undergoing some failed knee surgery, dressed in a bright caftan which covered a body cast that ran from below her breast down her left leg to her toes. A woman who when I became pregnant encouraged me not to drop out of graduate school with the advice that I might have to work one day. A one day that began almost immediately and lasted for twenty-seven years of teaching high school English, a job I graduated from in 1995 which left me more time to sit down to put words on the page.
I came to writing by chance in my late 40's. The New York State English Bureau began to press all teachers to actively write with their students: how could you teach something that you didn't do yourself? I remember writing my first short story as part of an assignment I'd given one of my senior classes. After a weekend of struggling to put into fictional scenes the experience of seeing a boy have an epileptic seizure on the playground when I was a sixth grader, I said to my class, "Wow, writing a story is hard isn't it?"
My first novel, NIGHT NAVIGATION, Book 2 of a trilogy-in-progress, will be released by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 4/14/09. Book 1, ROPE & BONE is "finished" and sitting on my agent's shelf ready to go out when/if the publishing houses recover from the down-turn. I'm now working on Book 3, COMMON DESCENT. These novels all deal with two rural upstate women and their families,covering the years from 1955 to the present.
I began writing during the time of the so called "minimalists": Carver, Beattie... I still lean toward that spare language, letting the images show the world beneath. Two of my favorite books are Margaret Atwood's CAT'S EYE and Tim O'Brien's THE THINGS THEY CARRIED. I love Alice Munro's stories, especially her earlier work: THE LIVES OF GIRLS AND WOMEN, DANCE OF THE HAPPY SHADES...
Thanks, Ginnah, for reading Almost There. Appreciate that you stopped by that one. It's close to my heart...
Thanks for your kind comments about Chimera, Ginnah. It's actually one of my favorites as I prefer narrative poetry and its upbeat. I tend to write more when I'm down, something I strive to change.
Thanks for the comment on Love, Story, Ginnah. Glad you enjoyed, and yes it was quite a challenge writing without commas. The comma deserves respect.
Great meeting you here!
Hi Ginnah. Thank you for reading and commenting on Like the Goats.
I have not done the Sopranos yet. (Have to finish Mad Men & Deadwood first.) The invention of DVRs & box sets is a beautiful thing. I never used to watch any shows with a story arc because I'm terrible at being in front of the tv at the same time every week. And I never could be bothered to figure out the timer on the VCR.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment on Girl. I'm happy you enjoyed it. And YES, big yes to those buttons in Rope & Bone and what all that sewing reveals about Steve's character. Just brilliant.
The Things They Carried (which, yes, I LOVE) works so well in the classroom. When I taught English comp at a two-year college, I would use the title story for our unit on classification (I would read it out loud as students grouped and then we'd map it) and it was amazing to watch students -- who'd never read a book, much less a short story -- open up. A switch would flip. Always one of my favorite moments each semester.
So glad you're here, Ginnah. Looking forward to reading more.
Ginnah, thank you for your thoughts on my story. Very much enjoying your work here as well.
Ginnah, thanks for the lovely words on Ping Pong, and for the back and forth on my wall... I think I need to read what's up there! Just as an aside, The Woodshed group is not just for poetry... C.
Ginnah - hello, nice to meet you! And thanks for the read on Help Me Own You. Yes, the intro definitely perks one up. Thank you!
Ginnah, anything that can make someone laugh out loud, well it made my day. So glad you enjoyed Organic BJ's. Cheers! Susan
Thanks for reading Ninety, Ginnah. Yes, the alternative, oh dear!
Thanks for the lovely comments about "Repair Man", Ginnah!
Ginnah, Thanks for reading Whipping Post. It's good to hear the ending was effective.
Thank you Ginnah, for your nice words on Lake Chelan!
I much enjoyed Rope and Bone, and reading your wall.
Hi Ginnah: Solipsism is one of a writer's necessities! Thanks for the comments on my homage to Lennon.
Ginna: Thank you for your kind comment on "The Human Condition." I'm glad you understood my comment on your work. I enjoyed it a lot. It's a wonderful piece with a true, honest voice moving it along.
My thanks back to you, Ginnah. I appreciate your reading "The Hollow." I look forward to reading more of your work.
Thanks for your wonderful comment about "Greyhound." I think all of us who have ridden on buses for any length of time have indelible memories.
Hi Ginnah. Thanks for the kind words on "Down Cellar." I'm glad you enjoyed it.
You know - I read Night Navigation about three weeks ago and it was good. Very gritty, Very real and a sad screenshot of that world. I would have put something here sooner except I forgot the title (I read alot) and couldn't backtrack you. I apologize for allowing absent mindedness to take me over but better late than never. I enjoyed your book.
PS. I was peompted to pick it up because I read the excerpt you posted here. So I remembered something at least.