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Sellers, Heather 1964- (Heather Laurie Sellers)

Sellers, Heather 1964- (Heather Laurie Sellers)

PERSONAL:

Born September 16, 1964, in Orlando, FL; daughter of Fred and Patricia Sellers; divorced. Ethnicity: "Anglo." Education: Florida State University, B.A., 1985, M.A., 1987, Ph.D., 1992. Religion: Roman Catholic.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Department of English, Lubbers Hall, Hope College, 126 E. 10th St., Holland, MI 49422-9000. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, assistant professor of English, 1992-98; Hope College, Holland, MI, associate professor, 1995-2006, professor of English, 2006—. Burren College of Art, Ballyvaughan, County Clare, Ireland, member of summer faculty, 2001; Saint Lawrence University, Viebranz visiting writer, 2002-03; guest lecturer at other institutions; gives readings from her works; artist in residence at Hawthornden in Scotland, in Seaside, FL, and at Millay Colony, and Ragdale.

MEMBER:

Associated Writing Programs.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Paul Bowles Short Story Award, 1998, for "Five Points;" fellow, National Endowment for the Arts, 2000-02.

WRITINGS:

Your Whole Life: Poems, Panhandler Press (Pensacola, FL), 1994.

Georgia under Water (short stories), Sarabande Books (Louisville, KY), 2001.

Drinking Girls and Their Dresses: Poems, Ahsahta Press (Boise, ID), 2002.

Spike and Cubby's Ice Dream Island Adventure (juvenile), illustrated by Amy L. Young, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2004.

Page after Page: Discover the Confidence and Passion You Need to Start Writing and Keep Writing (No Matter What!), Writer's Digest Books (Cincinnati, OH), 2005.

Chapter after Chapter: Discover the Dedication and Focus You Need to Write the Book of Your Dreams, Writer's Digest Books (Cincinnati, OH), 2007.

The Boys I Borrow (poetry), New Issues Press (Kalamazoo, MI), 2007.

The Practice of Creative Writing: A Guide for Students, Bedford/St. Martin's (Boston, MA), 2008.

Work represented in anthologies, including Intimate Voices, Ordinary Lives: Stories of Fact and Fiction, Alaska Quarterly Review Press, 1997; New Poems from the Third Coast: Contemporary Michigan Poetry, edited by Conrad Hilbery, Michael Delp, and Josie Kearns, Wayne State University Press (Detroit, MI), 2000; Falling Backwards: Stories of Fathers and Daughters, edited by Gina Frangello, Hourglass Books (IL), 2004; Best of the South: Best of the Second Decade, edited by Anne Tyler, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC), 2005; and Fresh Water: Women Writing on the Great Lakes, edited by Alison Swan, Michigan State University Press (East Lansing, MI), 2006. Contributor of poetry, short stories, and nonfiction to literary magazines, including New Virginia Review, Field, Indiana Review, Hawaii Review, Women's Review of Books, Sonora Review, Chattahoochee Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Five Points, and Journal.

SIDELIGHTS:

Heather Sellers told CA: "I began as a short story writer (majoring in fiction as a college student and as a doctoral candidate) and I worked hap- pily, wholeheartedly, and productively in this realm until a few years ago, when my department chair unexpectedly assigned me to teach creative nonfiction, a new course for me. Reading memoir and the essay widely, I was at first simply trying to create new ways to teach students to move beyond the self and simultaneously deeper into themselves and their own stories. But I started doing the assignments I gave to my students. I wrote my first essay, a triptych (three connected essayettes, really, three scenes set in a single place in the dunes on Lake Michigan, near where I live), and I published this piece. I haven't been back to fiction since, though I miss it daily and think about it constantly: fiction is my estranged spouse.

"I can't stop fooling around with nonfiction. The genre found me. Nothing I could do! It's a capacious, generous, superbly friendly form, tolerant of many mistakes. It's both old and young. It's honest and revealing; oddly, there aren't many places to hide in fiction. Everything shows. To write a story, you have to build an engine to run it. With poetry and the essay you can skip building the engine, and just get in the car and see where it wants to go. So, nonfiction has moved into my life, crowding out almost everything else.

"One of my projects is Face First, a memoir about prosopagnosia, or face blindness—a disorder that affects one's ability to reliably identify known people. My influences or models for this project are those authors who beautifully blend personal narrative with research: Adam Gopnik, Robert Kurson, Diane Ackerman, Jennifer Ackerman, Joan Didion, Amy Fusselman, Abigail Thomas, and Rick Moody, and the poets, who show us how to tell truth in beautiful and necessarily complex ways.

"I'm happiest as a person and a writer when I can work every day, in the mornings, before having to interact with anyone. I work hard at being a functioning member of society—but it takes everything out of me. (Maybe it's partly because I am unable to recognize my own face, the faces of my loved ones.) The world is work. But when I have written, I feel normal, I go out into the world with some degree of ease and complicity. It's as though by writing, I create a secure place on which to stand, a point of stability. If I haven't written, the day is scritchy—every light turns red, I'm hungry, late, wrong, talking too much at a meeting. A wayward teenager is driving the car and I am powerless to stop her from dangerous mistakes. If I don't write, I do not feel real.

My travel writer friends say the journey doesn't feel complete, over, until they have come home and written the piece about the trip. I feel that way about each day of life.

"It has been through teaching—and continuing to take writing classes—that I have made my writing discoveries. You'd think it would be from reading. I am afraid I read absolutely for pleasure. I know I am supposed to be concentrating on technique, picking up trade secrets, but I can't discipline my mind in this way. I'm a rebellious, voracious, lusty reader. I have some reliable works I used in the classroom—workhorse works. I couldn't teach my current flames, or the books that deeply, deeply nourish. It would feel like exposing intimate body parts—very wrong for everyone involved."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Library Journal, April 15, 2001, Lisa Nussbaum, review of Georgia under Water, p. 135.

New York Times Book Review, June 17, 2001, Katherine Wolff, review of Georgia under Water, p. 22.

Publishers Weekly, May 7, 2001, review of Georgia under Water, p. 222.

ONLINE

Heather Sellers Home Page,http://www.heathersellers.com (April 28, 2008).

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