No author is an island. With that in mind, in the coming weeks I'll be featuring the people who've been part of my life, both during the writing of You Belong Here and in my formative years.
Let's start with love:
You Belong Here #1: Zia Steed
She wore an Eeyore hat and was the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen. Now 10 ten years on, she is my wife and the mother of my two boys, Jake and Oscar.
She makes everything better.
The People Behind You Belong Here #2: Plooker and Butters
With my boys, I'm sometimes frazzled, often exhausted but always grateful. They lift me up, and pull me down (slides). They fill the house with coos, cries, and laughter.
Pretty good gig, as far as such things go.
The people behind You Belong Here #3: ZZ Packer and the 2012 University of Iowa Graduate Fiction Workshop
Once in your life, if you're lucky, you will get to find your people. For me, these people converged on Iowa City in the summer of 2012. We came from far and wide. For a month we lost days workshopping at Dey House, browsed the bookstores, wrote at Prairie Lights, our faces lit by laptop screens.
We had a tough (the toughest?) teacher an emerging writer could ever need, the inimitable Zuwena Packer. I cashed in those tickets that I'd previously bought on myself and learned instead to be a better writer.
I miss them all the time and think of them often. 2012 Class of the Grad. Fiction Workshop, you're in the nights and days of writing and revising, so many moments that came to define You Belong Here.
The People Behind You Belong Here #4: Lui Paolino
Lui played the drums. He loved the Beatles, the Blues, and being a funny, friendly guy. He's missed by many; in each of us, he's remembered fondly and with great warmth.
Here he is with my friend Anne at our 10-year high school reunion. Years later he would leave us, only he never really left us. Someone like Lui stays with you, always.