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A Q&A with Northern New England Author and MFA Faculty Merle Drown

MFA Professor Merle Drown

Merle Drown is the author of three novels and numerous flash fiction stories. "Lighting the World" (2015), Drown's most recent book, pulled upon events that happened in his life and garnered praise from his peers, including best-selling authors Wiley Cash and John Searles.

"The Suburbs Of Heaven" (2000) was listed as a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers book, and praised by The New York Times, The Boston Book Review, Publishers Weekly and Newsday, to name a few. "Plowing Up a Snake" (1982) also received praise by many, including Publishers Weekly, People and Library Journal.

Drown is native to northern New England. He currently teaches in Southern New Hampshire University's MFA program and continues to write. Visit his website to learn more.

Have you always written?

I've always told stories but didn't start writing them until college. My family told stories. It was their way of getting at truth and wisdom.

What's your process in developing your storyline and characters?

Usually characters come to me as actors in a story, rather than the two being separated. For instance, a woman telling her children to gather their treasures because someone is coming to take everything valuable he can find. Then I write to discover who these people are, what they'll do and why they'll do it.

What challenges do you face in your writing, and how do you overcome them?

Keeping it out of the ruts.

What has the road to publication been like for you?

Uneven. The first agent I approached took me on, and the first editor he sent the manuscript to bought it. Over 10 years passed before my next novel came out.

How do you market your work?

Not well.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?

That it's hard every time, but every time I will finish the novel.

Who are the authors that have inspired you most, and how have they inspired you?

A few out of the dozens who inspire me: Faulkner for the audacity of his vision, Twain for his humor and insight into the heart, Kafka for coming at truth slantwise and Flannery O'Connor for her combination of comedy and tragedy.

If you could keep just three books in your library, which would you choose and why?

Only three? I'd cry. 

Rebecca LeBoeuf ’18 is a writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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