Adam Johnson was born in South Dakota and raised in Arizona. He earned a BA in Journalism from Arizona State University in 1992; a MFA from the writing program at McNeese State University, and a PhD in English from Florida State University in 2000.
Johnson teaches creative writing at Stanford University. His fiction has appeared in Esquire, The Paris Review, Harper's, Tin House, Granta, and Playboy, as well as The Best American Short Stories. His works include include Emporium, a short-story collection, Fortune Smiles, which won the National Book Awarad, and the novels Parasites Like Us and The Orphan Master's Son, which won the Pulitzer Prize.
First Draft interview with Elizabeth McCracken.
Jess Walter is the author of The Beautiful Ruins.
Sunil Yapa is the author of Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist.
Lauren Groff is the author of the novel The Monsters of Templeton, shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers, Delicate Edible Birds, a collection of stories, and Arcadia, a New York Times Notable Book, winner of the Medici Book Club Prize, and finalist for the L.A. Times Book Award.
Her latest novel is Fates and Furies.
Her work has appeared in journals including the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Tin House,One Story, McSweeney’s, and Ploughshares, and in the anthologies 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses, PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, and three editions of theBest American Short Stories.
She lives in Gainesville, Florida with her husband and two sons.
Australian-born Geraldine Brooks grew up in Sydney. She worked as a reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Wall Street Journal, where she covered crises in the mideast, Africa and the Balkans. She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 2006 for her second novel, March. Her novels Caleb’s Crossing and People of the Book were New York Times best sellers. Her first novel, Year of Wonders is an an international bestseller, translated into more than 25 languages and currently optioned for a major motion picture starring Andrew Lincoln.
Paul Harding is the author of the novel Tinkers, which won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and the PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers. He was a fiction fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Harvard University, and Grinnell College.
Anthony Marra is the New York Times-bestselling author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, longlisted for the National Book Award and winner of the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize. It was selected as one of the ten best books of 2013 by The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, Salon, New York Magazine, Publishers Weekly, and Library Journal, among numerous other year-end lists. He is the winner of the Whiting Award, the Pushcart Prize, and currently teaches at Stanford University. www.anthonymarra.net
Jack Driscoll is the author of four books of poems, two collections of short stories, and four novels. In addition, he is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including the NEA Creative Writing Fellowship, the NEH Independent Study Grant, two Pushcart Prizes and Best American Short Story citations, the PEN/Nelson Algren Fiction Award, the Associated Writing Programs Short Fiction Award, and seven PEN Syndicated Project Short Fiction Awards.
His stories have been read frequently over NPR’s “The Sound of Writing,” and his work has appeared nationally in magazines, literary journals, and newspapers such as Chicago Tribune, Kansas City Star, Civilization, Poetry, The Georgia Review, The Southern Review, and Ploughshares.
Celeste Ng is the author of the novel Everything I Never Told You (Penguin Press), which was a New York Times bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book, and Amazon's #1 Best Book of the Year 2014. She grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio, in a family of scientists. Celeste attended Harvard University and earned an MFA from the University of Michigan (now the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan), where she won the Hopwood Award. Her fiction and essays have appeared in One Story, TriQuarterly, Bellevue Literary Review, the Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere, and she is a recipient of the Pushcart Prize.
James Salter grew up in New York City and was a career officer and Air Force pilot until his mid-thirties, when the success of his first novel, The Hunters(1957), led to a fulltime writing career. Salter’s potent, lyrical prose has earned him acclaim from critics, readers, and fellow novelists. His novel, A Sport and a Pastime (1967), was hailed by the New York Times as “nearly perfect as any American fiction.” His latest book, All That Is, was published to critical acclaim in 2013. He died in 2015. This interview was recorded in November 2014.
Dani Shapiro is the bestselling author of the memoirs Devotion and Slow Motion, and five novels including Black & White and Family History. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, One Story, Elle, The New York Times Book Review, the op-ed pages of The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and has been broadcast on “This American Life”. Dani was recently Oprah Winfrey’s guest on”Super Soul Sunday,” and was chosen by Arianna Huffington to speak at the New York City “Thrive” conference. She has taught in the writing programs at Columbia, NYU, The New School and Wesleyan University; she is co-founder of the Sirenland Writers Conference in Positano, Italy. A contributing editor at Condé Nast Traveler, Dani lives with her family in Litchfield County, Connecticut. Her latest book is, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life.
Liam is the author of The Cloud Atlas , All Saints and Listen. He serves in the English department of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and was previously its chair, as well as coordinator of its Ph.D. program in creative writing. He has regularly contributed to local and national public radio, and is possibly the only person now living (but consult your own Venn diagram) who has written for all of the following: the Wall Street Journal (on zeppelins, jetpacks, and touring Paris and Greece with children's books), The Awl, Medium, Commonweal, Esquire.com (on swimming and flying), Slate, the New York Times Book Review, the Times op-ed page, the Washington Post Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, Forbes FYI, Good Housekeeping, Parents, Milwaukee Magazine and elsewhere.
Ben Fountain is the author of Brief Encounters with Che Guevara and Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. He has received the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Barnes & Noble Discover Award for Fiction, and a Whiting Writers' Award, among other honors and awards. He and his family live in Dallas.
Julia Fierro is the author of the novels Cutting Teeth and the forthcoming The Gypsy Moth Summer.
A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, where she was awarded a Teaching-Writing Fellowship, Julia founded The Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop in 2002, and it has since become a creative home to over 2,500 NYC writers. Sackett Street was named a “Best NYC Writing Workshop” by The Village Voice, Time Out NY, and Brooklyn Magazine, and a “Best MFA-Alternative” by Poets & Writers and the L Magazine.
Michelle Brafman is the author of the novel Washing the Dead. Her short fiction short has won some awards, including a special mention in the Pushcart Prize Anthology, and my essays and stories have appeared in Slate, The Washington Post, Tablet, Lilith Magazine, the minnesota review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and numerous other publications. She teaches fiction at Johns Hopkins University.
Ann Patchett is the author of six novels, The Patron Saint of Liars, Taft, The Magician’s Assistant, Bel Canto, Run, and State of Wonder. She was the editor of Best American Short Stories, 2006, and has written three books of nonfiction, Truth & Beauty, about her friendship with the writer, Lucy Grealy, What now? an expansion of her graduation address at Sarah Lawrence College, and, most recently, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, a collection of essays that examines the theme of commitment.
Bill Clegg is the author of two memoirs, Portrait of an Addict as A Young Man: A Memoir and Ninety Days. His novel, Did You Ever Have a Family, was long listed for the 2015 Man Booker Prize and the National Book Award. Clegg is also a literary agent and owner of The Clegg Agency.
Vanessa was born in the Cuban satellite city of Miami, to Cuban parents.
Her plays have been produced in Edinburgh, Miami, New York, and Los Angeles, among other cities. These include The Cuban Spring (a full-length, Carbonell Award nominee for Best New Play, 2015). The Crocodile’s Bite (a short, included in numerous anthologies such as Smith & Kraus’ Best Ten Minute Plays of 2016; City Theatre’s National Short Playwriting Award Anthology, as a finalist; and the Writer’s Digest annual award anthology). And, her most recent play, Grace, Sponsored by Monteverde.
Her visual art has been exhibited around the United States and the Caribbean.
As a journalist, feature writer, and essayist, her pieces have appeared in the LA Times, The Miami Herald, The Washington Post, The Southern Humanities Review, The Art Basel Magazine, The Rumpus, and numerous other publications. She’s also a Huffington Post Blogger.
Her first novel is called White Light. She is currently at work on a memoir entitled My Cuban Routes.
Edwidge Danticat was born in Haiti and moved to Brooklyn when she was 12 years old. She now lives in Miami. She has taught creative writing at the New York University and the University of Miami.She has also worked with filmmakers Patricia Benoit and Jonathan Demme, on projects on Haitian art and documentaries about Haiti Her short stories have appeared in over 25 periodicals and have been anthologized several times. Her work has been translated into numerous other languages, including Japanese, French, Korean, German, Italian, Spanish, and Swedish. Her books include Brother, I'm Dying, Claire of the Sea Light, The Dew Breaker and Breath, Eyes, Memory.
Charles Baxter is the author of five novels, five short story collections, three collections of poetry and two essay collections on fiction. His novel The Feast of Love was nominated for a National Book Award. His most recent story collection is called There’s Something I Want You to Do. Baxter lives in Minneapolis and teaches at the University of Minnesota and in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. www.charlesbaxter.com.
Leslie Jamison was born in Washington DC and grew up in Los Angeles. Since then, she's lived in Iowa, Nicaragua, New Haven, and New York. She's worked as a baker, an office temp, an innkeeper, a tutor, and a medical actor. Every one of these was a world; they're still in her.
Jamison has written a novel, The Gin Closet, and a collection of essays, The Empathy Exams. Her work has appeared or will appear in places like Harper's, Oxford American, A Public Space, Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Believer. She's a columnist for the New York Times Book Review, and is currently finishing a doctoral dissertation at Yale about addiction narratives. She lives in Brooklyn, above a smoke shop.
Elliott Holt was born and raised in Washington, D.C. A former copywriter who worked at advertising agencies in Moscow, London, and New York, Holt attended the MFA program at Brooklyn College (where she won the Himan Brown award) at night while working full time in Manhattan during the day. Her writing has been published in the New York Times, Salon, Guernica, Kenyon Review online, The Millions, Bellevue Literary Review, The Pushcart Prize XXXV (2011 anthology) and elsewhere. In addition to winning a Pushcart Prize, she was the runner-up of the 2011 PEN Emerging Writers Award. Her first novel You Are One of Them was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice.
Bonnie Jo Campbell grew up on a small Michigan farm with her mother and four siblings in a house her grandfather Herlihy built in the shape of an H. She learned to castrate small pigs, milk Jersey cows, and, when she was snowed in with chocolate, butter, and vanilla, to make remarkable chocolate candy. When she left home for the University of Chicago to study philosophy, her mother rented out her room. She has since hitchhiked across the U.S. and Canada, scaled the Swiss alps on her bicycle, and traveled with the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus selling snow cones. As president of Goulash Tours Inc., she has organized and led adventure tours in Russia and the Baltics, and all the way south to Romania and Bulgaria.
Her collection Women and Other Animals details the lives of extraordinary females in rural and small town Michigan, and it won the AWP prize for short fiction; her story "The Smallest Man in the World" has been awarded a Pushcart Prize. Her novel Q Road investigates the lives of a rural community where development pressures are bringing unwelcome change in the character of the land. Her critically-acclaimed short fiction collection American Salvage, which consists of fourteen lush and rowdy stories of folks who are struggling to make sense of the twenty-first century, was a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award in Fiction.
Alan Lightman is the author of six novels, including Einstein’s Dreams, which was an international best seller and The Diagnosis, a finalist for the National Book Award. He is also the author of two collections of essays and several books on science. A theoretical physicist as well as a writer, he has served on the faculties of Harvard and MIT, where he was the first person to receive a dual faculty appointment in science and the humanities. He lives in the Boston area.