Connie May Fowler, author of How Clarissa Burden Learned To Fly, has written a guest blog here for my readers. Be sure and check out the feature for this book that I posted a few days ago.
Laura, thank you so much for asking me to write about my reading/writing journey and for inviting me to be a guest on your very beautiful blog.
My reading/writing journey began a very long time ago, reaching back to my earliest memories. My childhood was defined by poverty and violence. And books? They were my refuge. Before I could read, my sister read to me as a means to block out the sound of my parents fighting. Indeed, following her finger down the page and listening intently so that I would no longer hear what was happening in the other room is how I learned to read.
I escaped into books and discovered role models and hope. In the world of literature, I learned that some children actually knew they were loved and that gentle kindness could be a way of life. Writing was a natural outgrowth of all that reading I did and it provided a way to make sense of the chaos that surrounded me.
I was, I admit, a scribbler savant. I wrote broadly: plays, short stories, poems, songs. But it wasn’t until I went to graduate school that I penned my first novel. I wrote Sugar Cage as my graduate school thesis and Putnam published it in 1992.
How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly is my seventh book. I’m grateful and surprised that my passion for the written word has actually turned into a career. And believe me, I take none of it for granted. I’m perpetually surprised that my books find their way into print and, also, perpetually delighted that they land in hands of readers. It’s a profound joy and privilege to know that my novels might help others find their way out of whatever darkness they might be experiencing.
For me, my journey was one word, one paragraph, one page, one book at a time. And now, I’m a middle-aged woman contemplating what my next book will be, and I am struck anew that this is, despite some rough patches, a beautiful life.
~~Connie May Fowler
About Connie May Fowler:
"There is no denying the depth of Connie May Fowler's talent and the breadth of her imagination."
~ The New York Times Book Review
Connie May Fowler is an award-winning novelist, memoirist, and screenwriter. Grand Central Publishing will publish her most recent novel, How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly, April 2, 2010. She is the author of six other books: five critically acclaimed novels and one memoir. Her novels include Sugar Cage, River of Hidden Dreams, The Problem with Murmur Lee, Remembering Blue—recipient of the Chautauqua South Literary Award—and Before Women had Wings—recipient of the 1996 Southern Book Critics Circle Award and the Francis Buck Award from the League of American Pen Women. Three of her novels have been Dublin International Literary Award nominees. Ms. Fowler adapted Before Women had Wings for Oprah Winfrey. The result was an Emmy-winning film starring Ms. Winfrey and Ellen Barkin. In 2002 she published When Katie Wakes, a memoir that explores her descent and escape from an abusive relationship. Her work has been translated into 18 languages and is published worldwide. Her essays have been published in the New York Times, London Times, International Herald Tribune, Japan Times, Oxford American, Best Life, and elsewhere. For two years she wrote "Savoring Florida," a culinary and culture column for FORUM, a publication of the Florida Humanities Council. In 2007, Ms. Fowler performed in New York City at The Player’s Club with actresses Kathleen Chalfont, Penny Fuller, and others in an adaptation based on The Other Woman, an anthology that contains her essay “The Uterine Blues.” In 2003, Ms. Fowler performed in The Vagina Monologues alongside Jane Fonda and Rosie Perez in a production that raised over $100,000 for charity. Domestic violence shelters and family violence organizations have honored her with numerous awards. In 2009, she received the first annual Peace, Love, and Understanding Award from WMNF Community Radio. She is currently working on her next project, a novel titled Euphrates in Paradise. In addition to writing, Ms. Fowler has held numerous jobs including bartender, food caterer, nurse, television producer, TV show host, antique peddler, and construction worker. From 1997-2003 she directed the Connie May Fowler Women Wings Foundation, an organization dedicated to aiding women and children in need. From 2003-2007 she served as the Irving Bacheller Professor of Creative Writing at Rollins College and directed their award-winning visiting author series Winter With the Writers. Ms. Fowler travels the country, speaking on topics such as writing, self-employment in the arts, literacy, domestic violence, child abuse, environmental issues, and popular culture. She teaches writing workshops and seminars globally and is the founder of Below Sea Level: Full Immersion Workshops for Serious Writers and serves on the faculty of The Afghan Women's Writing Project. She is a Florida native.