I was born on Staten Island, New York, to very young parents who dreamed of raising five children on a farm. Soon I had four younger siblings, and we moved to a crumbling stone house down a long dirt road, where we raised sheep and became ever more "eccentric"- bankrupt that is, and peculiar. I began writing fiction when I was very young, trying to make some sense of it all.
My first stories were published in The Atlantic while I was at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, and when I graduated I was offered a fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Like thousands of people before and after me, I fell in love with this little town way out at sea, and I've lived here for decades now, with my husband Roger Skillings and our daughter Marisa.
The House on Oyster Creek and The Harbormaster's Daughter are my fourth and fifth books. I've finally lived on the Outer Cape long enough to have a deep sense of this place. I've come to understand why writers like Austen and Faulkner mapped and populated their own imaginary towns, drawing on the places they knew intimately to shed light on universal truths. A small town works like a novel-you know everyone and hear stories from every side. As life develops and changes you learn people's graces and weaknesses, and just when someone has thoroughly exasperated you, he turns around and does something so surprising and admirable thatů you can't help writing a book. I love my home territories for their landscape and their people, and if someone will one day call me a regional writer I'll be very grateful.
My earlier books are The Rose Thieves, Darling?, and The Bride of Catastrophe, all available in paperback. My stories have been published in The Atlantic, Grand Street, Agni Review, Yankee, and many other magazines, and anthologized in The O'Henry Awards, Best American Nonrequired Reading, the Grand Street Reader and others. Essays have appeared in The New York Times etc.
I've taught Fiction Writing and English at Colby College, Queens University, The Fine Arts Work Center Summer Program, and online:
I've been a guest reader and teacher at Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Cornell, Gettysburg, Trinity, The University of Maryland and Austin Peay University