When I prepared my application to the MFA (Masters of Fine Arts in fiction) at Pacific University, I needed a short story, a very brief literary analysis essay, and a personal statement. This was 2004. My mother had been dying for over two years, and my brother had declared me "the most disfunctional person" he [...]


A student wrote to me the other day to thank me for assigning Mountains Beyond Mountains when she was  junior in my class. The young woman is in her third year of medical school and credits Tracy Kidder's true story of Dr. Paul Farmer for inspiring her ambition. It was not the only nonfiction I [...]


I began writing fiction in 1990 when I was hired to teach English at Seaside High School. I believed myself wholly unqualified to teach English (and others have agreed), but I had taught art in an elite prep school for three years, picked up a Social Studies endorsement through exam, and substituted in the Seaside [...]


Eight hours, then six hours the next afternoon, then a day off, then another seven hours revising my 2016 novel after working my paying job. I have queried it more times than I am willing to admit and under four different titles. (The husband of a friend suggested the title last week that I think [...]