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I’m working on a book that explores mental illness and trauma. Alison Failure asks is the past always less sophisticated than the present? In it, I study the connections between my own life and women in my family who also experienced trauma as well as time in psych hospitals. Because I believe pain can’t be allowed to be the core of the story I went looking for parts that weren’t tragic and found zany letters, folk artwork and fierce sisterhood.

I write true stories that focus on women’s lives, telling stories that buoy insiders and educate outsiders. I give words and weight particularly to experiences of sexual violence and mental illness. I aim to replace myths with knowledge from lived experiences.

Like many, I have first-hand experience with both sexual abuse and with mental health concerns. In coming at this work from a survivor’s perspective my goal is to build community, encourage other’s voices, and to be considered a representative (one of many) but not representative.

I’m an obsessive researcher, particularly looking at how things have changed over time. I’ve discovered the past is a foreign country one can visit with the proper passport and visas. I’m often surprised by how much I can find out about individuals who lived 80 or 100 years ago, either through direct or indirect research.

I’m working on finishing up edits for my first memoir and beginning research for my second.

In the meantime, here are a couple of my short pieces for your perusal:

“She Can Have This Calf” published in Fiction Fix’s special creative nonfiction issue. See Dinty W. Moore’s review of the issue as a whole, including a brief interview with guest editor Mark Ari.

“Funny Girl in the ER” published in Diverse Voices Quarterly. (It’s a pdf, so you’ll have to scroll down, or better yet, read the whole issue.)

Thanks for spending some time here.

P.S. You can find more about my performances, my memoir, and my teaching by following the links across the top of the page, or right here.

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