I was born in Greenville, South Carolina and I come from a family that has lived in the Carolinas and in the Southern Appalachian Mountains since before the Revolutionary War. I moved around a lot as a child—my father was in the Army—and we lived in Germany and Washington, DC before returning to Greenville when I was a teenager. Cultural shock ensued. Yet I discovered the deep roots of my traditional, insular, southern hometown juxtaposed against my previous migratory life on military bases—where I had friends from all corners of the world—allowed me to take on the role of the observer. I felt, as Walt Whitman put it, “both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it.” A narrator was born.
I began my writing career as a reporter for my college newspaper, the Furman Paladin. After graduating with a BA in philosophy and a fat file of news clippings, I found work as a reporter and columnist for weekly and daily newspapers.
While earning an MAT in English at the University of South Carolina (and earning a living by waitressing) I took my first fiction writing workshop with the renowned witty raconteur William Price Fox. I wrote about a waitress who struggles to hold onto her ancestral home in a declining mill town, a story that, several years later, I expanded into my first novel. I later received an MFA in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College.
Much of my fiction is set in the South where I seek beauty in weedy cemeteries, cluttered main street storefronts, dilapidated porches. Working class life figures prominently in my fiction—unemployed exterminators, bartender poets burdened with student loans, characters forced out of their gentrified city-swallowed towns.
I’m the author of two novels, The Garden Angel, selected for Barnes and Noble’s Discover Great New Writers and Secret Keepers, awarded the Willie Morris Prize for Southern Fiction. The South Carolina Arts Commission has granted me a Fellowship in Prose, and I’ve twice won the state’s Fiction Prize. I was named a Fellow at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and my short stories have appeared in storySouth, LitMag, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Southern Humanities Review, and many others.
My essays are included in anthologies such as State of the Heart: South Carolina Writers and the Places They Love (USC Press), Literary Dogs & Their South Carolina Writers (Hub City Press), and My Bookstore: Authors Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop (Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers).
I’ve taught journalism, literature, and creative writing at Furman University, Converse, and Greenville Technical College. I spearheaded a nonprofit writing program in Greenville, the Writing Room, where for seven years I taught, recruited writers, and scheduled workshops in the community; I partnered with the Emrys Foundation and local booksellers to arrange for authors to lead seminars at book signings. To dovetail with this, I interviewed writers for my “Author to Author” column in the Greenville Journal.
In 2019, my husband and I moved to Edisto Island, a small, bucolic barrier island between Charleston and Beaufort. Edisto, a place of transcendent beauty, has no traffic lights, an independent bookstore, two library branches (and two liquor stores). It’s an ideal place for creating.
Regal House is publishing my third novel in 2024. Her Best Self features domestic suspense with winks of humor to leaven the ominous backbeat. The novelis about a woman, long defined—and confined—by her father and husband. As she uncovers the ugly mystery surrounding her accident years before, as her marriage and her family unravels, she discovers “her best self.” The novel, set in fictitious Haven, South Carolina, interweaves the protagonist’s first-person narratives with perspectives from a broad cast of characters, and features complicated family dynamics. While it takes place in 2015 and beyond, Her Best Self brings to life a society in the not-so-distant past in which women were often eclipsed by their husbands.