Bio & Biblio
• In Search of Lost Time, Aqueduct Press, 2017
• Other Places, Aqueduct Press, Oct. 2016
• Glorious Plague, Permuted Press, April 2014
• The Inner City, ChiZine Pubications, Canada, 2013
• The Made-up Man, Livingston Press, Livingston, Alabama, May 2011
• Journey to Bom Goody, Livingston Press, Livingston, Alabama, May 2005
• The Soft Room, Livingston Press, Livingston, Alabama, May 2004 (
• The Other Door, University of Missouri Press, Columbia, Missouri, October 1995
Among the Missing, Saturday Evening Post online, May 11, 2018
Heading for the Border, Shoreline of Infinity, March 2018
The Dream Catcher, TJ Eckleburg Review, Sept 2017
Here and There, Conjunctions, Spring 2017
The Reordering of Tonia Vivian, Aliterate Journal, May 2017
That Place, Maine Review, Winter 2017
What Approaches, Digital Fiction Horror, Nov. 2016 (reprint)
Goodness in All Its Forms, Saturday Evening Post online, Aug. 5, 2016
The Smallest Possible Ships, SciPhi Journal, June 2016
After They've Gone, Strangelet, June 2016
The Rising Up, See the Elephant, Issue 2, 2016
The Very Difficult Job, Tin House Flash Fridays, Jan. 2016
Egg Island, Clarkesworld, Oct. 2015
Bright Bright Bedlam, Kenyon Review Online, Aug. 5, 2015
The Lovely Kisselthwist, Saturday Evening Post Online, March 20, 2015
The Alien Came Over the Hill, Daily Science Fiction, July 13, 2015
The Terrible Journey, Michigan Quarterly Review, Winter 2015
The Mechanical Nature of Love, BuzzyMag, Dec. 4, 2014
The Stray Curse, Indiana Review, Summer 2014
Space Mama, Daily Science Fiction, Oct. 8, 2013
How to Be a Foreigner, Perihelion, Sept. 12, 2013
What Approaches, Penumbra magazine, fall 2012
The Clockworm, Journal of Unlikely Entomology, fall 2012
Thick Water, Albedo One magazine, Spring 2011
The Large People, Daily Science Fiction, July 2011
The Hair, Michigan Quarterly Review, Spring 2011
Searching for Penny, American Literary Review, Spring 2011
Fish Wish, Weird Tales Magazine, Winter 2011
Elvis in Bloom, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, Summer 2011
Beds, Moon Milk Review, Feb. 2010
Mice, Vestal Review, Winter 2010
The Great Spin, Confrontation, winter 2010
Exile, Fantasy magazine, April 19, 2010 (online)
The Great Spin, Wet Ink magazine, September 2009
Silver Watches Everything, StoryQuarterly magazine, Issue 43
Joey, the Upstairs Boy, Alaska Quarterly Review, 2009
Oh He Is, Fantasy magazine, May 18, 2009
The Completely Rechargeable Man, Clarkesworld, Dec. 2008
Ball Lightning, Oxmag (online), 2008
The Difficulties of Evolution, Weird Tales, June/July 2008
The House of Gold, Odyssey magazine, March 2008
Landscape, with Fish, Weird Tales, Feb. 2008
The Inner City, Cemetery Dance, Feb. 2008
Right Ida, The St. Ann's Review, winter 2007/08
Shady Guy, Shenandoah, winter 2007/08
Games, Crab Creek Review, Fall 2007
Talking about Rita, The Pedestal Magazine, May/June 2007 (online)
Guest Appearance, Crab Orchard Review, Fall 2005
The Log, Arts & Letters, Fall 2005
Ooh, North Dakota Quarterly, Summer 2005
Road Work, Phoebe, vol 33 no. 2, fall 2004
The Naked Man, Clackamas Review, 2004 , vol. 8
Primo Chemo, Serpentinia, 2002 awards issue (online)
Cookies, Night Train Magazine, vol. II, Summer 2003
Fool Radiance, Literary Review, Fall 2002
Metropolitan Pigeon, The Bear Deluxe, Number 19, Summer/Fall 2002
Slyboy! Sneakerheart!, Literal Latte, Volume 8 Number 1, Summer 2002
Ordinary, Confrontation, No. 78/79. Spring/Summer 2002
Chemo Dreams, Sycamore Review, West Lafayette, IN, Summer 2000
The Snakes of Central Park, Mid American Review, Bowling Green, OH, Spring/summer 2000
Satan In All His Glory, Michigan Quarterly Review, Ann Arbor, MI, Spring/summer 2000
Graced, Confrontation, Brookville, NY, Summer 1999
The Right Chemistry, New York Stories, Long Island City, NY, Winter/spring 1999
At the Edge of the River, Alaska Quarterly Review, Anchorage, Alaska, Summer/Fall 1998
Me and My Enemy, Virginia Quarterly Review, Charlottesville, VA, Autumn 1997, Vol. 73 No. 4
The Escape Artist, International Quarterly, Tallahassee, FL, 1997, Vol. 3 No. 1
And the Snake, So Sinuous, Witness, Farmington Hills, MI, Vol. XI, No. 1 1997
The Hole Story, Beloit Fiction magazine, Beloit, WI, Summer 1995
Sick Leave, Alaska Quarterly Review, Anchorage, Alaska, Summer/Fall 1995
Overpowering Joy, Ms. Magazine, New York, NY, March/April 1995
The Revolt of Everyday Things, Massachusetts Review, Amherst, MA, Summer 1993
How Lightly He Stepped in the Air, Short Fiction by Women, New York, NY, Issue 4
Like a Piston, like a Flame, Crosscurrents, Westlake Village, CA, Winter 91/92
Figaro, Figueroa, The Boston Review, Boston, MA, Jan./Feb. 1991
Simple Accommodations, New Virginia Review, Richmond, VA, Winter 1990/91
Ghost Nets, TriQuarterly 77, Evanston, IL, Winter 1989/90
The Lizard Woman, Kansas Quarterly, Manhattan, KS, Vol. 19, No. 3, Summer 1987
The Sieve, Clifton Magazine, Cincinnati, OH, Winter 1987
In A Perfect World, Carolina Quarterly, Chapel Hill, NC, Spring 1986, Vol. 38, No. 3
- Finalist, 2017 Shirley Jackson award in short fiction
- 2010 American Literary Review Fiction Award
- Finalist, 2009 Shirley Jackson award in short fiction
- Finalist, The 2004 Bellwether Prize
- Second place, Night Train Magazine’s 50/50 awards
- Honorable Mention, Serpentinia short story awards (online)
- Short-Listed Story, 2001 O. Henry Awards
- Special Mention, Pushcart Prize 2000
- 1998 O. Henry award
- Finalist, 1993 Iowa Short Fiction Awards
- Semifinalist, 1992 Nelson Algren Award
- Honorable Mention, 1987/88 Kansas Quarterly award in short fiction
I was born in Brooklyn in 1949 and spent my early childhood in the Sunset Park area. It was a working-class neighborhood, with a great mix of kids, who spent the days outside playing stoop ball, johnny-on-the-pony, and stickball, who jumped copings and ran to the park to roll down Dead Man’s Hill. I was the second of four children, and the six of us lived in a four-room apartment.
When I was eight my parents bought a two-family house in Bensonhurst, a quieter neighborhood with no street games. I attended Catholic school (which I hated) and read a lot—at least there was activity in books.
I wrote my first novel when I was 11. I wrote it in longhand, skipping two lines, and leaving the back of each page blank but counting it. It has luckily been lost to the ages.
Books always figured in my life. I even built an altar out of books—which were the bricks of my life, apparently. I said my night prayers in front of it. Religion, imagination, books, dreams—everything seemed to merge in my mind. There was a sermon one day about Satan tempting the godly, and I was terrified for months afterwards that Satan would try to tempt me. Religion made everything seem personal and direct. A few years ago I wrote a story about Satan visiting a little girl, and what she does about it.
I’m an agnostic now, but early religious training left me with a mass of symbols and references and an ongoing literary interest in gods and beliefs and assumptions and facts, and most particularly, in exclusion and inclusion.
While "The Soft Room" doesn’t deal with religion, it does pick up on those last themes. There’s a certain kind of grandioseness that can strike people when they feel they’re not like everyone else (and who doesn’t feel that at some point?). Since Meg can’t feel pain, it’s natural for her to feel superior, but that’s only if she can continue to believe that she’ll survive everything. And a sense of superiority always raises a question about how valuable one would be without the special talent, the great looks, the impressive intelligence. What would she be without this gift?
And while Meg believes she’s better than everyone else, it’s Abby who actually sets her limits. Meg needs Abby. And it’s obvious that Abby will be better off without this twin she must always protect and defend. Abby forces Meg to be responsible, and with that she learns morality as well.
Moral tests hover throughout the book—not merely Meg’s actions, but animal testing, money for research, how to make a difference in the world. Abby is the center of the moral world, so it’s no surprise that Abby takes over for Meg in so many ways. She’s Meg’s conscience.
I became a vegetarian while taking freshman biology at Long Island University (we had to dissect a fetal pig). I majored in English and later got my Master’s degree there as well. My undergraduate years were a bolt of excitement—the discussions, the readings, the teachers were a radical departure for me. It was the late sixties, and the world was changing, and we all felt we would have a hand in what it would become. I marched on Washington, marched in antiwar rallies around the city, went to the sit-ins, the be-ins, the happenings. We felt empowered and morally superior and invincible. But those years passed, and I had to work and the world didn’t change very much.
I dropped out of school for a year and worked on Wall Street. I went back, finished my degree, worked at Dell Publishing’s crossword department for a year, then went back and got my master’s degree in English. While I was in school I worked odd jobs, at bookstores and import shops. I lived in the East Village and kept finding cats to rescue. I moved into publishing jobs, staying for a few years to pay off my debts and then quitting to have time to write. But I wasn’t really writing anything interesting.
I wrote a few novels that were high-minded and static and sat in a drawer and then I began writing short stories. I loved Dostoyevsky and Bronte and Austen and Marquez, and it was Marquez’s freedom that influenced me the most. In his world, people levitated. Literature was moving out of Minimalism and into Magic Realism, and that’s where I was moving too, whether at the front of the crowd or in the rear didn’t matter.
I began publishing stories in the mid-80s. I would work on a novel and then switch to stories as I let the novel simmer in my head. I loved short stories—the form seemed perfect for me, the piece of reality where a character’s expectations soared or went sour. And I began to love the long pace of a novel, the way it stays with me for a few years and the way I can meditate on it at odd moments—driving, walking, sitting, staring. It’s an alternate universe that takes on more tangibility over time. It takes 2-3 years for me to get from idea to finished novel, and the amount of time involved allows for a lot of idea development, a lot of testing out plots and endings.
I’m more a plot person than a character person, so The Soft Room is unusual in its detailed examination of the twins’ lives, My next book, Journey to Bom Goody, leans more to the idea-driven, plot-driven, anything-is-possible world, which is where I like to be. Apparently it suits me.
In 1995, my first collection of stories was published by the University of Missouri and the New York Times review called it "haunting and quirky." In 1998, one of my stories won an O. Henry award. In 2003 an anthology on snake tales included a story of mine, and this year one of my books was a finalist for Barbara Kingsolver’s Bellwether Prize. I’ve published over 30 stories and I have a lot more. The world surprises me; and I write about it.