Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 10.13.55 AMWhat is your occupation? What were your previous positions?

Professor of Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago. I am currently the Associate Chair of the Department of Creative Writing. Before becoming a teacher, I worked a number of low-paying odd jobs—at a plastics factory, at a headshop, as a waiter and prep cook at Shoney’s, as an art instructor at a juvenile detention center, and as a flower delivery person. I prefer being a teacher.


What is your new book about?

Marvel and a Wonder follows the relationship between a grandfather and grandson who live in rural Indiana on a failing chicken farm. One day they receive a mysterious gift—a quarter horse—that upends their lives. Soon the animal is stolen and they must search the bleak underworld of the Midwest to retrieve it and some sense of hope and redemption.

MarvelandaWonder1-509x800The boy was still asleep at seven. The grandfather went downstairs, buttered some toast, ate, then puttered off into the field to check on the corn. It was just past his knees now, the leaves a keen, rich green. He squatted there among the rows, poking his fingers deep into the soil, cupping some of it in his palm, taking in the pleasant corruptness of the dirt.

He came inside, started a pot of coffee, and saw the feed store calendar with a red X marking the date. It was the boy’s birthday. The grandfather stared at the X solemnly, went upstairs, got dressed, opened the boy’s bedroom door and saw him snoring facedown on the pillow, then decided to let him sleep.