My Aunt Mildred passed away last week, so I’m rerunning this post from two years ago as a tribute to her. When I was a small child, she took me to the gravel road that ran by my grandmother’s house and patiently sat with me while I hunted for rocks, which I found, for whatever…

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People often ask me how I know when I have material that I think might work in a novel. It’s no secret that each of my five novels has been based on actual events from the news, but news isn’t what first seduces me. What hooks me every time is usually something that I have…

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I believe it was Eudora Welty who said that one of her biggest challenges in writing was to get a character to walk into a room. Such is the small business that looms large in the writing of any narrative. How do we make our characters’ actions convincing and properly motivated? How do we know…

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(In memory of my mother on Mother’s Day, I re-post this from a couple of years ago):   My Mother’s Hands Because my father lost his hands, my mother made a gift of hers. Cuticles ragged, knuckles scraped, fingernails smashed—farm work showed her no mercy. Her hands were made for more delicate things, but she…

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It’s that time of year again—graduation—which means the time has come to bid a fond farewell to another class of MFA students. On Saturday night, here at The Ohio State University, we celebrated, as we always do, with a gala event at which twelve poets and prose writers showed us exactly what they’d been up…

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