Over the past year, I've been working on two projects:
1. Last year I completed a draft of a novel that this year I decided should be three separate novels! Instead of one novel with three storylines, I'm expanding each storyline into its own novel, creating a kind of thematic trilogy about women in American cults.
I've recently completed the first book, titled According to the Doctrine, which follows Rosemary, a young woman living with her husband in a fundamentalist cult in small-town Texas, as she chafes against the restraints of her environment and finds her voice in a restrictive world. To me, this is a novel concerned with voices, the ones we allow to dictate our lives, the ones we do not let speak, the ones we trust and the ones we do not—the voice of God, the voice of the society in which we move, the voice we alone can hear. Through Rosemary and her life in the cult, According to the Doctrine examines the damaging effects of the patriarchy, the danger of misplaced beliefs, and the tragedy of silencing voices we fear, even when the voice we quiet is our own.
The second book follows Alice, a student who finds herself in a fledgling Manson-like cult after fleeing the predetermined course of her life as a nice suburban girl, as a future wife and mother, and the third tells the story of Harriet, the first wife to her community’s great man in upstate New York in the late 1800s. Both of these manuscripts are partially completed.
2. In my story collection, tentatively titled All the Living and the Not, men and women grapple with the strange contradictions of ordinary life, the way marriage both unifies and alienates, how the math of motherhood means both a multiplication, a kind of doubling, but also a subtraction—an equation in which something is gained and still something is lost. These are stories about magic and prophecies, about creatures and ghosts, but at their core, they are stories about the everyday horrors that fill domestic life: separation and miscommunication, infertility and pregnancy, motherhood and fatherhood, the kind of love that both restores and destroys. The stories in this collection have been published in Ploughshares, Electric Literature, Indiana Review, Post Road, and The Rumpus.