My story as a writer starts in a newsroom. I took a job at a small paper on a Florida island right out of college and ended up six years later reporting for one of the nation’s largest daily newspapers. During that time, I wrote about beached whales, rodeos, inventor contests, polygamists, rain, house movers, fat camp, subdivision names, Tom Delay, Rick Perry, Ron Paul, diapered astronauts, tarpon, coyote attacks, hoarders, Virgin Mary miracles, shrimp boats, gay-deniers, circadian clocks, the stink of red tide, gasoline prices, and one man put to death by the state of Texas.
After six years at that, I decided it was high time to shrink my audience base. So I packed up and moved to Iowa, where I got an MFA in creative nonfiction writing and later started (but never finished) an MFA in literary translation. During those years, I also managed to learn Spanish, get married, spend a year in Colombia on a Fulbright, have a kid, climb lots of trees, and start writing what would become my first book.
I am now a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and an assistant professor at Arizona State University, where I head up the Nonfiction Writing and Publishing Graduate Certificate. I’m also the author of the essay collection Mine, winner of the River Teeth Book Prize and the GLCA New Writer’s Award and longlisted for the Pen/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay and a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award (as well as one of LitHub’s favorite books of 2018), and I translated the novella Cordoba Skies by the Argentine writer Federico Falco. My essay “The Accusation” was a finalist for a National Magazine Award and was named one of Longform’s top 10 longform works in 2020.
With Lina María Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas (writer extraordinaire), I am currently editing a forthcoming anthology of the essay in the Americas called The Great American Essay. My second book, Autobiography of Shadows, is forthcoming from Scribner Books, and is funded in part by the good people at the National Endowment for the Arts. I live in Arizona with my partner, two kids, and a dog named Oki.