''Our faculty members are not only nationally and internationally published authors who have won awards and fellowships of some of the highest acclaim, they are master teachers, and it is this gift and their passion for teaching that truly set our program apart. These mentors are an engaged and engaging group who write beyond the desk. They live big lives and bring big stories and even bigger heart to our students.'' Diane Les Becquets, Director
MFA Faculty Bios
Diane Les Becquets - Director of MFA, Associate Professor
Director of the MFA program and Associate Professor of English, was hailed by Publishers Weekly as a ''writer to watch'' after her debut novel, ''The Stones of Mourning Creek'' (YA Kirkus Star Review). Since then she has published two other novels: ''Love, Cajun Style'' (Bloomsbury, Booklist Star Review) and ''Season of Ice'' (Bloomsbury), the latter being the recipient of a PEN American Fellowship. Other awards she has received include BBYA Blue Ribbon Award, ALA Best Book of the Year, Foreward Independent Bookseller Gold Winner Book of the Year, Volunteer State Book Award Selection, and Garden State Book Award finalist. Her nonfiction essays have been published in Idaho Review, Amoskeag, and several anthologies.
She has served as a judge for the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts and the Maine Arts Commission, and has taught writing workshops at venues across the country, including the University of Mississippi, Auburn University, the New Hampshire Writers' Project, the Department of Forestry, Writers Conference at Ocean Park, Writers in Paradise, the Arkansas Writers Festival, the Telluride Arts Organization, and shelters for Katrina victims.
A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Les Becquets received her bachelor's in English from Auburn University and her MFA in Fiction from the University of Southern Maine. She has worked in the field with archaeologists, taught reading, math, and music in the schools in Colorado, and was a medical journalist for almost ten years. She is an avid outdoors’ woman, enjoying archery, bicycling, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, backpacking, and hiking in the woods with her Labrador, Lacey. Before moving to New Hampshire she lived in a small ranching town in Northwestern Colorado, where she raised her three sons.
Richard Adams Carey - Faculty
Assistant Director of the MFA program, is the author of four nonfiction books including ''Raven's Children: An Alaskan Culture at Twilight,'' chosen as a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Public Library; ''Against the Tide: The Fate of the New England Fisherman,'' awarded a New Hampshire Writers' Project Nonfiction Prize; and “The Philosopher Fish: Sturgeon, Caviar, and the Geography of Desire.'' The author of numerous essays and articles, his journalism addresses natural history, ecology, and environmental affairs. His short fiction has appeared in the Hunger Mountain Review, Meeting House, and Turnrow.
Carey holds a bachelor's in English from Harvard College and a master's in Educational Administration from Lesley College. His varied career includes cannery worker, commercial fisherman, farm hand, museum curatorial assistant, bookstore clerk, market researcher, actor, musician, teacher, freelance journalist, and president ex officio of the New Hampshire Writers Project board of trustees. His current book concerns a series of murders in New Hampshire's North Country in 1997.
Wiley Cash - Faculty
Wiley Cash's first novel, ''A Land More Kind Than Home'' (William Morrow/HarperCollins), debuted on The New York Times Best Sellers List in 2012. Listed as one of the summer's best books by O Magazine, Parade, and National Public Radio, the novel was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, a New York Times Editors’ Choice, a New York Times Notable Book, a Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Best Book, an IndieNext Pick, and was awarded the 2012 Debut Crime Novel of the year by the UK’s Crime Writers’ Association. Cash’s second novel, ''Stealing Home,'' is also to be released by William Morrow/HarperCollins. The publication rights to both novels have been sold in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Italy, and France. Cash’s fiction has appeared in journals including Carolina Quarterly and Crab Orchard Review. Cash is the co-author of ''This Louisiana Thing that Drives Me: The Legacy of Ernest J. Gaines.''
A native of western North Carolina, a region that is featured prominently in his fiction, Cash holds a PhD in English from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. Cash has been a fellow at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. His first published story, Grenadine, about an elderly woman whose life is inextricably tied to the kudzu plant, was written at Gregory's Formal Wear, a tuxedo shop tucked away in the corner of a Sears department store in the Asheville Mall in North Carolina. A sports’ buff and a vegetarian chef, Cash lives with his wife in Morgantown, WV.
Craig Childs - Faculty
Craig Childs, naturalist, adventurer, and frequent contributor to National Public Radio's ''Morning Edition,'' has published more than a dozen critically acclaimed books. The New York Times says ''Childs's feats of asceticism are nothing if not awe inspiring: he's a modern-day desert father.'' He has been called a born storyteller by the New York Sun, and the Los Angeles Times says his writing is like "pure oxygen" and "stings like a slap in the face.''
Childs has won several key awards, including the 2008 Rowell Art of Adventure Award, the 2007 Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award, and the 2003 Spirit of the West Award for his body of work, an honor he shares with Wallace Stegner, Terry Tempest Williams and N. Scott Momaday.
Childs, with an master's in Desert Studies from Prescott College, is an Arizona native, and grew up back and forth between there and Colorado. He began working as a river guide in his teens, and has since held numerous jobs from gas station attendant to journalist to beer bottler. He now makes his living as a writer and lives off the grid in Colorado with his wife and two young sons.
Merle Drown - Faculty
Merle Drown is the author of two novels, ''Plowing Up a Snake'' (DoubleDay) and ''The Suburbs of Heaven'' (Soho Press, and Berkley Publishing Group), the latter being a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. The San Francisco Chronicle called ''The Suburbs of Heaven'' ''compelling reading, the kind of fiction you stay up with half the night.'' And Gallery called it ''brutal and hilarious
Drown has worked as an editor, actor, and ghost writer, and has published his short fiction in Amoskeag, Meetinghouse, 971 Menu, Night Train, Rumble, Sub-Lit, Word Riot, The Kenyon Review, JMWW, Bound Off, Eclectica, Toasted Cheese, SN Review, Foliate Oak, and Knock. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College.
Ann Garvin - Faculty
Ann Garvin understands flawed characters, and knows how to write humor. ''On Maggie’s Watch'' (Berkley Penguin), ''shows how we thrive, how we go on, in a life that's neither perfect nor fair,'' writes bestselling author, Luanne Rice. ''[Garvin] has such deep understanding for her flawed and trying-to-get better characters; she obviously loves them, and so do we.'' Garvin's second novel, ''I Like You Just Fine When You're Not Around,'' is anticipated to be released by Berkley in 2013.
After working as a nurse for fifteen years, Garvin completed her PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, publishing extensively in the area of exercise, mental health, and media. Decades of teaching and studying characters in their natural habitat proved a perfect backdrop for this scientist turned novelist. She has enjoyed acting, backpacking through Europe, swimming in Jamaica, Greece, Hawaii, Kuai, and eating her way through Egypt. Known for her humor and passion, she is a sought after speaker and educator at conferences and festivals, and has won awards for her stories and lectures on health and writing.
Leslie Jamison - Faculty
Leslie Jamison's debut novel, The Gin Closet,'' was named one of San Francisco Chronicle’s Best Books of the Year and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times First Fiction Prize. Her second book, a collection of essays called The Empathy Exams,'' won the 2012 Graywolf Nonfiction Prize and will be published in early 2014. Her work has appeared in The Believer, A Public Space, Tin House, L Magazine, Salt Hill, Black Warrior Review, The San Francisco Chronicle, and VICE Magazine. She has received fellowships from the Yaddo Corporation, the UCross Foundation, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Black Mountain Institute.
Jamison earned her bachelor's in English from Harvard College, her MFA in Fiction from The University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, and is currently working toward a PhD in American Literature, at Yale University, with her dissertation on addiction narratives. She has worked blending smoothies as a juice barista, peddling jeans at the GAP, typing data entry as a temp, teaching arithmetic to second-graders in Nicaragua, and playing house as an innkeeper in a bed and breakfast by the sea. Her work as a writer has taken her far and wide – to an ultra-marathon in Tennessee, a skin disease conference in Austin, a West Virginian prison, and a Bolivian silver mine.
Ben Nugent - Director of Creative Writing, Assistant Professor
Benjamin Nugent, Director of SNHU's undergraduate Creative Writing program, and Assistant Professor of English, is the author of the novel, ''Good Kids'' (Scribner), and ''American Nerd'' (Scribner), a mix of memoir and cultural history. His journalism has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Op/Ed Page, Time, GQ, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and n+1. His short stories have appeared in Tin House and The L Magazine. He earned his bachelor's in English from Reed College, and was an Iowa Arts Fellow at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he earned his MFA in Fiction.
His jobs have included adapting ''American Nerd'' into a sitcom pilot for Universal Studios, and reviewing albums and fact-checking as a staff reporter for Time. For several years he was the keyboardist for The Cloud Room, a band whose song ''Hey Now Now'' was featured in commercials for Pepsi One and Whole-Grain Pringles. He's appeared on ''NPR,'' ''CNN,'' ''The Today Show,'' ''CBS Sunday Morning,'' and ''Last Call with Carson Daly.'' His books have been widely featured, including reviews by Slate, Salon, Wired, Entertainment Weekly, Italian Vogue, Le Monde, The New York Times, and Elle.
Lydia Peelle - Faculty
Lydia Peelle's first published short story, ''Mule Killers,'' won an O. Henry Award in 2006. Since then her stories have appeared in publications such as Granta, the Sun, Orion, and Prairie Schooner, and have been awarded two Pushcart Prizes and twice been featured in Best New American Voices. Her debut story collection, Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing, was a New York Times Editors’ Choice book, a finalist for the Orion Book Award, and received an honorable mention for the 2010 PEN/Hemingway Award. A 2009 National Book Foundation ''5 under 35'' honoree and a 2010 recipient of a Whiting Award, Peelle is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Virginia, and has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Corporation of Yaddo, the Ragdale Foundation, and the Ucross Foundation. She is a former speechwriter for the Governor of Tennessee and has also worked as a wildlife rehabilitator and English teacher. She lives in Nashville.
Mark Sundeen - Faculty
Mark Sundeen's first book landed in the publishing world in 2000 from a dusty trailer in the Utah desert. ''A riotous, beautiful, totally original road novel masquerading as a travel book,'' wrote George Saunders of ''Car Camping'' (HarperCollins). His second book, ''The Making of Toro'' (Simon & Schuster) garnered comparisons to Hunter S. Thompson and David Sedaris, and introduced readers to the would-be literary hero, Travis LaFrance. With ''The Man Who Quit Money” (Riverhead), winner of a Montana Arts Council Innovation Award, Sundeen established himself as one of the day's most innovative writers of creative nonfiction. ''This is a beautiful, thoughtful and wonderful book,'' wrote Elizabeth Gilbert. ''I suspect I may find myself thinking about it every day for the rest of my life.'' Sundeen's award-winning features and essays appear in the New York Times Magazine, Outside, National Geographic Adventure, McSweeney’s and The Believer.
Sundeen was born in Harbor City, California. After graduating from Stanford University with a bachelor's in English, he spent 10 years in Moab, Utah, sometimes homeless, working odd jobs, river guiding, and leading Outward Bound wilderness courses. Sundeen holds a master's in Writing from the University of Southern California. Since moving to Montana in 2005, he splits his time between Missoula and Moab.
Katherine Towler - Faculty
Katherine Towler, is author of a trilogy of novels: ''Snow Island,'' ''Evening Ferry,'' and ''Island Light.'' This New England trilogy set on a fictional island chronicles the lives of two generations of two island families and the impact of the wars of the 20th century on the island community. Praised by the Boston Globe as "luminous and moving,'' ''Snow Island'' was chosen as a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers title, a Borders Original Voices title, and an Indiebound selection. Towler is the co-editor, with Ilya Kaminsky, of ''A God in the House: Poets Talk About Faith,” a collection of interviews with prominent American poets. Her essays can be found in two recently published anthologies – ''Choice,'' a collection of essays by women writers on reproductive choices, and ''Writers and Their Notebooks.'' Her reflections in finding a spiritual home are published regularly on her blog for the Huffington Post. She has published poetry, short stories, essays, and interviews with writers in literary magazines including The Sun, The Worcester Review, The Tusculum Review, and In Posse Review.
Towler earned a bachelor’s in English from the University of Michigan, a master's in Writing from Johns Hopkins, and a master's in English Literature from Middlebury College. She has received fellowships from Yaddo, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and the New Hampshire Council on the Arts. She was awarded the George Bennett Fellowship at Phillips Exeter Academy and served as the school's writer-in-residence. She has taught creative writing to students of all ages and works as a freelance writer in addition to teaching.
Robin Wasserman - Faculty
Robin Wasserman is the author of fifteen books for children and young adults, including the Cold Awakening Trilogy (Simon & Schuster/Pulse), the Chasing Yesterday Trilogy (Scholastic), ''Hacking Harvard'' (Simon & Schuster/Pulse), and the Seven Deadly Sins series (Simon & Schuster/Pulse), which was adapted into a popular television miniseries. Her latest novel, ''The Book of Blood and Shadow'' (Random House/Knopf), received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, was an Indie Next pick and Amazon Best Book of the Month, and is featured on several best of 2012 lists. Wasserman’s essays and short fiction have appeared in the anthologies ''Under the Moons of Mars,'' ''A Friday Night Lights Companion,'' and ''Oz Reimagined,'' as well as The New York Times.
Wasserman grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs and earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard College, where she tried to wrap her brain around quantum physics and wrote a thesis about LSD. After graduating, she spent several years as a children’s book editor with Scholastic, working on bestselling novels and classic book series. She left publishing to pursue a graduate degree, and earned her master’s in the History of Science at the University of California, Los Angeles. After accidentally writing a novel instead of a dissertation, she returned to Brooklyn, where she now lives and writes.
Mitch Wieland - Faculty
Mitch Wieland is the author of ''Willy Slater's Lane'' and ''God's Dogs.'' Willy Slater's Lane received starred reviews in Publisher's Weekly and Booklist, and was optioned for a film. The New York Times called the novel ''immensely moving.'' ''God's Dogs'' was named the Idaho Book of the Year in 2010, and was featured in the Best of the West 2009 prize anthology. ''God's Dogs'' was also a finalist for the 2010 John Gardner Fiction Book Award, and was cited as a Book of the Year by New West.
Wieland's short stories have appeared in The Best of the West, The Southern Review, The Kenyon Review, The Yale Review, TriQuarterly, The Sewanee Review, Shenandoah, StoryQuarterly, and Prairie Schooner.
Wieland is the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Christopher Isherwood Fellowship, and two Literature Fellowships from the Idaho Commission on the Arts. As a Boise State University Arts and Humanities Fellow, he is currently working on a novel set in Japan, where he lived for several years. Wieland, who holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alabama, founded and continues to serve as editor for The Idaho Review.
Amy Irvine McHarg - 2013-2015 Faculty Fellow
Amy Irvine McHarg is a sixth-generation Utahn and longtime wilderness advocate, who for seven years worked for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. Her work has appeared in Orion, Climbing, High Desert Journal and in numerous western, nature, and environmental anthologies. Irvine's first book, ''Making A Difference: Stories of how our Outdoor Industry and Individuals are Working to Preserve America’s Natural Places,'' was one of three books featured in the Washington Post for Earth Day 2002. Her second book, ''Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land'' (Farrar, Straus & Giroux/ North Point Press), received the Orion Book Award and Colorado Book Award-while the Los Angeles Times wrote that it "might very well be ‘Desert Solitaire's’ literary heir." In a starred review, Booklist characterized ''Trepass'' as "a penetrating critique of Mormon sovereignty" and called Irvine McHarg "bold and original in her thinking, candid and lyrical in expression," claiming that she "joins red-rock heroes Edward Abbey and Terry Tempest Williams in breaking ranks and speaking up for the living world." Her recent essay ''Spectral Light'' (Orion, January-February 2010 /The Best American Science and Nature Writing of 2011), was a finalist for the Pen Award in Journalism. Her third book, ''Terra Firma,'' is forthcoming from Counterpoint Press. Irvine McHarg has taught non-fiction creative writing and memoir workshops throughout the West.
Our affiliate faculty, one in nonfiction and one in fiction, are regular contributors to our program, teaching workshops, giving readings, and consulting with students.
Sy Montgomery - Affiliate Faculty - Nonfiction
Sy Montgomery, international best-selling author, has been chased by an angry silverback gorilla in Zaire and bitten by a vampire bat in Costa Rica, worked in a pit crawling with 18,000 snakes in Manitoba and handled a wild tarantula in French Guiana. She has been deftly undressed by an orangutan in Borneo, hunted by a tiger in India, and swum with piranhas, electric eels and dolphins in the Amazon. She has searched the Altai Mountains of Mongolia’s Gobi for snow leopards and hiked into the trackless cloud forest of Papua New Guinea to radiocollar tree kangaroos.
Sy's 15 books for both adults and children have garnered many honors. ''The Good Good Pig,'' her memoir of life with her pig, Christopher Hogwood, is an international bestseller. She is the winner of the 2009 New England Independent Booksellers Association Nonfiction Award, the 2010 Children's Book Guild Nonfiction Award, the Henry Bergh Award for Nonfiction (given by the ASPCA for Humane Education) and dozens of other honors.
Her work with the man-eating tigers, the subject of her book ''Spell of the Tiger,'' was made into in a National Geographic television documentary that she scripted and narrated. Also for National Geographic TV she developed and scripted ''Mother Bear Man,'' about her friend, Ben Kilham, who raises and releases orphaned bear cubs, which won a Chris award. Her latest book for children, ''Kakapo Rescue,'' won the Sibert Medal, the highest honor awarded in the nation for a nonfiction children's book.
An ardent conservationist, she is a board member of the Rainforest Conservation Fund, RESTORE! The North Woods, and the Center for Tropical Conservation.
John Searles - Affiliate Faculty - Fiction
John Searles began writing his first novel, ''Boy Still Missing,'' after the opening sentence came to him while cleaning under his bed. The book was published by HarperCollins and went onto become a national bestseller. Hailed as "riveting" by the New York Times and "hypnotic" by Entertainment Weekly, the novel inspired Time magazine to name him a Person to Watch and the New York Daily News to name him a New Yorker to Watch. His second novel, ''Strange But True,'' also a national bestseller, was praised as "sinister and complex" by Janet Maslin of The New York Times and "extraordinary" by Publishers Weekly. Both novels have been optioned for film. John wrote the screenplay to ''Strange But True,'' which has been purchased by GreeneStreet Films in partnership with award-winning producer Ross Katz. John recently signed a two-book contract with HarperCollins. He is at work on his third novel, which will be published in 2013. In addition to his career as a novelist, John is an on-air book critic on ''NBC’s Today Show,'' where he appears regularly to announce his favorite book selections. He has also appeared on CBS’s ''The Early Show,'' ''NPR’s Fresh Air,'' ''Live! With Regis and Kelly,'' and ''CNN.'' He is an Editor-at-Large at Cosmopolitan magazine, where he has served as the books editor for nearly fifteen years. His essays, articles and reviews have been published in the Washington Post, The New York Times, Redbook, Out and many other national magazines and newspapers. John holds a MFA in Creative Writing from New York University.