You don’t become a fifty-something-year-old writer without accumulating a large number of people to thank. Here’s a partial list:

  • Amanda Urban, the best agent in the world, for her advocacy
  • Jennifer Smith at Random House for her wonderful editorial sense and guidance
  • Ken Cook and Margot Livesey who generously read several drafts of The Might-Have-Been and gave smart comments that helped shaped the novel
  • Members of my family and my friends who encouraged me, including my wife and children, my parents and siblings, as well as Debra Carpenter, Tony DiMartino, John Eschen, Eileen Solomon and Kirk Swearingen

I am also grateful for every writing teacher who ever graced my life, especially, in chronological order,

  • Thomas Hoobler, who, unfortunately for American education, stopped teaching and became, with his wife, the author of a good number of books for younger readers
  • Carl Smith, who is now Franklyn Bliss Snyder Professor of English and American Studies and Professor of History at Northwestern University, but was a first-year English instructor there when I ended up in his expository writing class by chance–the course I actually wanted to take was full and his was a substitute I settled on reluctantly. .. but it turned out to be one of the most fortunate accidents of my life
  • Shannon Ravenel, from whom I took a continuing education fiction workshop 30 years ago for the unbelievable price of $35, and who gave me much wise guidance for a long while after, and who has gained a well-deserved reputation as one of the best editors in the business
  • Jean Thompson, whose early collection The Gasoline Wars was one of the first books of stories that made me want to write them and with whom, later, I had the good fortune to study at Warren Wilson College’s MFA Program for Writers
  • Richard Russo, who directed my thesis at Warren Wilson and who has produced a stunning body of work, including the Pulitzer Prize winning Empire Falls