Hello! I’m an American-born writer who lives in the Illawarra and teaches prose fiction and editing at the University of Wollongong, Australia. My books include What the Ground Can’t Hold (Picador, 2013) and She Played Elvis (Allen and Unwin, 2009), which was shortlisted for the Australian Vogel Prize. I’ve just finished drafting my novel ‘FREEFALL’ about dumpster divers and squatters in Brooklyn.
I grew up on a small island off of Seattle and trekked across the country to study English Literature and Women’s Studies at Vassar College, NY. As part of a study abroad experience, I came to Australia in 1994, and went on to complete my PhD at the Australian National University in Canberra. I’ve been teaching at the University of Wollongong since 2003, and I love it. My students inspire me to face into feedback, practice perseverance and fail better (writing as rewriting!). Writing novels is something I’m driven to do but it’s not always easy. Having a community of writers – some former students, some colleagues – has been the key to maintaining the stamina needed to complete projects of 80-90,000 words.
I’m inspired to write because I want to be in conversation with the great books that have influenced me and taught me what it means to be human. I love contemporary work (in no particular order) by Ann Patchett, Haruki Murakami, Chuck Palahniuk, Amy Bloom, Marlee Ward, Julia Prendergast, Anthony Macris, Christine Howe, Catherine McKinnon, Kent Haruf, Jeanette Winterson, Don Delillo, Colum McCann, Lorrie Moore, Alessandro Baricco, Eduardo Galeano, Alice Walker, Margaret Atwood, Ursula LeGuin, Karen Joy Fowler, Lydia Davis…
What I’m currently reading: Paul Beatty’s The Sellout.