susan neville


Susan Neville is the author of four works of creative nonfiction: Indiana Winter; Fabrication: Essays on Making Things and Making meaning; Twilight in Arcadia; Iconography: A Writer's Meditation; and Sailing the Inland Sea. Her prize-winning collections of short fiction include In the House of Blue Lights, winner of the Richard Sullivan prize and listed as a 'Notable Book' by the Chicago Tribune, and Invention of Flight, winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction. Her stories have appeared in the Pushcart Prize anthology and in anthologies including Extreme Fiction (Longman) and The Story Behind the Story (Norton.) She lives in Indianapolis with her husband and two children and teaches writing at Butler University and in the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. New in 2010, a paperback re-issue of Invention of Flight (University of Georgia Press, October) and a book of nonfiction about Butler University during the NCAA men's basketball tournament: Butler's Big Dance (Quarry Books, November.)

Selected Works

Calling on the image of the Midwest's vanished inland sea, this collection of essays ponders the writing process and the "landlocked imagination."
Creative nonfiction
Memoir and meditation on writing
"Susan Neville is defining the emerging genre of the new nonfiction. The stories she has to tell in Indiana Winter are tales of great emotion and stunning insight."--Michael Martone
We are a nation of consumers. In this meditation of manufacture, Susan Neville journeys to factories in the heart of the midwest, looking for the sources of things.
Short Fiction
Winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction
"Susan Neville's language shimmers like light coming through colored glass, and her subtle words uncovered the inarticulate longings that burn the hearts of the most ordinary citizens. Susan Neville is one of the finest short story writers in the country." Maura Stanton


From the Preface:
When I began writing essays and lectures about writing, I found myself returning to this idea in almost every piece in one way or another: to the inland sea as a specific place reflected in the imagery of rivers and swampland and lakes, but also to the inland sea as a metaphor for the landlocked imagination. A writer traverses this sea, still, by sailing: tacking and coming about while heading toward the undiscovered material she hopes to find while in the act of writing.

The essays on writers, writing, and the land collected in Sailing the Inland Sea range from interviews with writers Kurt Vonnegut, Scott Russell Sanders, Dan Wakefield, Marguerite Young, and Etheridge Knight, to discussions on techniques of writing, grounded in a Midwestern sensibility and illustrated by writers from Shakespeare to Flannery O'Connor and by anecdotes I've collected in my years co-directing Butler University's Delbrook Visiting Writers Series. Nick Hornby and Douglas Adams and Salman Rushdie and Toni Morrison and Ray Bradbury make cameo appearances. As the inland sea that is my Midwest is covered by more layers of history, it's my hope that one copy of this book might remain in some library and be found, years down the road, by someone who might say here's a tree rung, a bit of exposed ocean, a ghost ship, the record of what some writers said while sailing through this land, trying to make sense of it.


"The essays are eclectic, engaging, and entertaining. The individual chapters . . . taken together . . . constitute a love letter to the Midwest as well as a lively commentary on creativity and the writing life. Highly recommended for all libraries with large collections on creative writing and for all libraries in the Midwest." --Library Journal, June 15, 2007