Author Signs With Press
Winston-Salem author Amy Knox Brown has joined the ranks of newly formed local publisher Press 53. Her first book, "Why We Are the Way We Are," a collection of stories, will be released in the fall.
Amy Knox Brown is a native of Lincoln, Neb. She received a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Stephens College in Massachusetts and doctorates in English and creative writing from the University of Nebraska, a J.D. from Nebraska's College of Law, and most recently, a master's degree in creative writing from North Carolina State University.
Her fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction have appeared in Shenandoah, The Missouri Review, Other Voices, Meridian, Crab Orchard Review, American Literary Review, Witness, the Nebraska Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, Spoon River Poetry Review, and Narrative Magazine, as well as many other literary journals, and in the anthologies "Times of Sorrow/Times of Grace: Writing by Women of the Great Plains-High Plains" (Backwaters Press, 2002); "The Student Body: Short Stories about Life in the University" (University of Wisconsin Press, 2001); and "High Infidelity: 24 Great Short Stories about Adultery by Some of Our Best Contemporary Authors" (William Morrow, 1997).
Brown is the 2005 winner of NCSU's Brenda L. Smart Prize for short fiction (judged by Lee Smith) and the 2006 winner of NCSU's Brenda L. Smart Fiction prize (judged by Shannon Ravenel). Other honors include the Mari Sandoz/Prairie Schooner Prize for Fiction, the Vreelands Award, a Henfield Prize, the Louise Pound Fellowship, and a Bread Loaf Writers' Conference scholarship. She is the visiting assistant professor of Creative Writing at Salem College, where she is co-director of the college's new creative writing major.
Brown's work has been noted for its subtlety. But perhaps the highest praise this fourth-generation Nebraskan has received comes from a former writing instructor who said Brown "writes about Lincoln as if it were Paris."
"It's true," says Press 53 co-owner Sheryl Monks. "Place is a character in this book. Like Tom Sheehan's Saugus, Mass., in 'Epic Cures' or Ann Pancake's 'West Virginia in Given Ground.'"
"My paternal grandmother was born in a sod house in Wallace, out in western Nebraska," says Brown. "My aunt Jennie took me to the first reading I ever attended when I was 13. She worked at Banker's Life with a poet named Ted Kooser, and he was promoting his (second, I think) book at the auditorium in the Sheldon Art Gallery, and so that was my introduction to Ted and to readings. John [McNally, Brown's husband] calls me the 'Minister of Propaganda' for Nebraska because I'm inclined to promote the state in ways that might not be, well, entirely accurate. Somebody -- my father, probably -- told me when I was a teenager that the Nebraska State capitol was one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and I believed this until I was 40 years old and living in Washington, D.C.; it occurred to me that there were a lot more elaborate buildings in D.C. that had not made the list, and so maybe my father was pulling my leg. Up to that point, whenever I'd seen a list of the Seven Wonders of the World and Nebraska's capitol wasn't on it, I thought it was a wrong version of the list."
Brown will be in good company at Press 53. Last summer the small publisher reissued "The Land Breakers" by John Ehle. The novel was selected by the Forsyth County Public Library for its community read program "On the Same Page." Later this year, Press 53 will reissue two other books by Ehle: "The Free Men," originally published by Harper & Row in 1965, and a 50th anniversary edition of "Move Over, Mountain," published by Hodder & Stoughton in 1957.
Another notable title set for release this year is "Surreal South," a collection of stories edited by Pinckney and Laura Benedict. "Surreal South" will include stories and poems by a number of high-profile writers. The list of confirmed celebrity contributors will be released in the next few weeks.
But Amy Knox Brown is used to being in good company. She studied under former Poet Laureate Ted Kooser at the University of Nebraska, with Jill McCorkle at North Carolina State University, and she is married to the novelist John McNally. The couple live in Winston-Salem with their rescued pets: dogs, Haley, Emma, and Scout, and cats, Jordan and Ashley.
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