I grew up in Florida, writing stories set in colder, more mountainous locales, with trees that weren’t palms. As soon as I could, I left for Vermont, land of Robert Frost and Adirondack chairs. Later I landed in New York City, then in Virginia, where I taught at James Madison University for four years. Up and down the east coast, I've written in coffee shops and cubicles; I began my first novel, Ten Thousand Saints (set in New York City and Vermont), in a palm-sized notebook on the subway in 2001, and it was published a decade later. I was honored when Ten Thousand Saints was chosen for Ithaca College’s 2012 First Year Reading Initiative and when it was optioned for film. Adapted for the screen and directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, and starring Ethan Hawke, the movie was released in August 2015.
My latest project is an essay anthology I co-edited with Anna Solomon called Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today's Best Women Writers, inspired by the birth of my two sons, Nicolas and Henry, and published by FSG in April 2014.
When I'm not teaching fiction, reading fiction, or writing about fiction, I direct the Distinguished Visiting Writers Series and co-direct the New Voices Festival (a celebration of emerging writers). In the fall of 2015 and spring of 2016, I am on leave from the classroom to work on my next novel, The Twelve-Mile Straight, set back in the South. After five years of living in icy Ithaca, I have developed a deep nostalgia for the palm tree.
- historical fiction
- film adaptation
- M.F.A. Fiction, University of Virginia, 2005
- B.A. American Literature/Creative Writing, Middlebury College, 2001, summa cum laude
- Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today's Best Women Writers, FSG, 2014 (co-editor)
- Ten Thousand Saints, a novel, HarperCollins/Ecco, 2011
- “The Farms,” Best American Short Stories, 2009; Agni, 2008
- “The Kissing Disease,” North American Review, 2007
- "The Search Continues," New York Times Book Review, 2014
- "I Wasn't Born Yesterday: The Beauty of Backstory," Poets & Writers Magazine, 2013
- "That First Bromance," New York Times Book Review, 2013
- "In Knots," New York Times Book Review, 2012
- "In Search of the Pit," Barnes & Noble blog, 2011
- “From Pittsburgh to Sitka,” Virginia Quarterly Review, 2007
- Faculty Excellence Award, Ithaca College Center for Faculty Excellence, 2011-2012
- Finalist for the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, Los Angeles Times, 2011
- 10 Best Books of the Year, New York Times, 2011
- A Year's Reading Selection, The New Yorker, 2011
- Top 5 Fiction Titles of 2011, O, The Oprah Magazine, 2011
- Top 10 Debut Fiction, Amazon.com, 2011
- Summer Grant for Faculty Research, Ithaca College Office of the Provost, 2011