As a writer, many of my stories come from my upbringing in rural Mississippi, where my maternal grandparents farmed cotton and my mother is one of their fifteen children. I grew up during the era of the Civil Rights Movement and came of age during the volatile integration of Mississippi’s schools. I attended nursing school at Mississippi University for Women, and then went on to complete both a masters in nursing from Ole Miss and a PhD in nursing from the University of Colorado. I now teach nursing full-time in Colorado, but the home of my heart will always be Mississippi.
I came to writing later in life, finally allowing myself to unleash a love of storytelling and a lifetime of struggling to understand the complex race relations in Mississippi. My stories tackle issues most Southerners can identify with, and, like me, have struggled to understand. My debut novel, Catfish Alley, will be released by NAL/Penguin in spring 2011. Contemporary stories defined by the context of Southern history continue to intrigue me as I work on my second novel. Writing is my way to wrestle with what I can’t explain and I am compelled to do that through the voices and stories of the American South.