What are you working on now? After publishing three Young Adult novels I am venturing into historical fiction for a general, adult audience. My work-in-progress, Simple Lessons in Irish, is set in Ireland and the U.S. in the early twentieth-century. It features rebellious nuns, fierce Irish patriots, and passionate labor leaders. My interest in Irish history is inspired by my own heritage and leading annual trips to Ireland with Saint Mary’s students during our January Term.
Which genre do you teach, and what is your specialization? I teach primarily in fiction, with occasional ventures into nonfiction, particularly the personal essay.
What do you think makes our MFA Program unique or different from other programs andwhat do you like about teaching in our MFA Program? We are a small program on a small campus with lots of opportunity for close one-on-one work between students and faculty.
What do you tell your students about how to embark upon a 'career' --either as an artist or anything else--following your degree? Figure out what it takes to keep writing and arrange your life so that you can keep writing—even if only for one hour a day before you go to work or get the kids up. Then, develop your “literary citizenship” by attending readings and other events if you can or simply by reading.