Selected Works

Loss of life and innocence are the central elements of this elegantly written novel.

The Enigma of Iris Murphy: Stories


I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska on Webster Street near Duchesne Academy in a family of seven children. I was the second child. My father, Bill, worked at Mutual of Omaha and my mother, Anne, taught at Millard North High School

After my freshman year at Creighton University I transferred to the University of Wyoming in Laramie. There I majored in English literature. A year after graduation I completed a Master of Arts degree in library science at the University of Iowa.

Soon after leaving Iowa City, I married and moved to Cincinnati where I worked for the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. In Cincinnati I worked for the Deer Park Branch as a children’s librarian and then as a reference librarian at the Information Desk at the Main Library. From the Information Desk, I moved to the Fiction & Young Adult Department where I worked for seven years. Specifically I was the young adult assistant and I worked at the Fiction Desk answering readers’ advisory questions. A large part of our work in the Fiction Department was reviewing books while maintaining subject and review files on the novels and short story collections that the Library acquired.

My time in Cincinnati was an education. The city itself was vastly different in weather, geography, and cultural outlook than Omaha, Iowa City, or Laramie. The librarians who supervised me were great mentors and educators. They taught me how to read and to think as a librarian. They encouraged me to write.

My husband's career took us to Minneapolis. The late poet Robert Hudzik, who was also the longtime head of the Films & Recordings Department at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, told me that, "Minnesota is a good place to be a writer." As with many things, Bob was right.

As my daughter started first grade I began an evening MFA program at Hamline University in Saint Paul. During my graduate school years I continued to work as a substitute librarian and was eventually offered a position as a permanent part-time librarian with the Hennepin County Library System at the Edina Library, where I have worked happily ever after.

My focus in writing school was fiction. As a young librarian I loved reading the fiction of Mary Wesley, Maria Thomas, Penelope Lively, Joan Didion, Barbara Pym, Laurie Colwin, Janet Hobhouse, Michael Chabon, Gail Godwin, Thomas Keneally, Anita Brookner, Jane Smiley, Alice Hoffman, Amy Tan, Alice McDermott, Diane, Johnson, J. D. Salinger, Kaye Gibbons, Alan Hollinghurst, and Alison Lurie. Like these writers I wanted to learn the magic tricks of creating characters -- that combination of scene and narrative that beckon the reader. To do that I needed to learn the architecture of a story, particularly the longest form of a story, the novel.

After five years of study I finished my thesis and graduated. Then for two years I revised my thesis, once lightly, and then dramatically, before sending it out to agents. An agent agreed to represent the manuscript and sold it to Alyson Books. When Charlotte Comes Home came out in 2006. In 2007, Charlotte won the Minnesota Book Award for Novel & Short Story.

Currently I am sending out a second novel and revising a third manuscript. Also I write book recommendations for the Edina Magazine through the Communications Department of the Hennepin County Library System. I write the occasional arts or literary article for the magazine as well. I work four days a week as a librarian. To stay inside the heads of my characters I find that I need to write daily, if only for 30 minutes. Sentences eventually build into paragraphs then pages and finally chapters. I revise as I move forward in a novel. When I have written a manuscript to the end I write it all over again. My process is steady. I am a turtle rather than a hare. Thank goodness for the hares or I would have nothing to offer the patrons of my library.
Photograph by Mirra Neiman