Connie May Fowler
These days, Fowler, a novelist, essayist and women's advocate, divides her time between her hometown of St. Augustine and the Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she is teaching in the low-residency MFA program. Fowler, who studied at the University of Tampa, is the author of seven novels, including How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly and Before Women Had Wings, which was made into an Oprah Winfrey Presents movie. She is currently working on an environmental memoir.
What's on your nightstand?
I have an assortment, including Haints by Clint McCown. It is a page-turner, dark, funny. I've got The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers, The Art of the Personal Essay by Phillip Lopate, some poetry by Pablo Neruda — Extravagaria, and The Round House by Louise Erdrich.
Is Erdrich a frequent author atop your nightstand?
I think I'm a novelist because of Louise. In grad school, my professor kept hammering me to turn a short story into a novel, and the idea was immense and daunting. I holed myself up in graduate school housing with 32 novels by contemporary female authors. I absorbed them in 27 days. I ran into Louise Erdich's Love Medicine. It read like a cycle of stories, and I knew then that I could write a novel. I think she's a truth teller. She tells the truth with a lyricism that causes the language to lift off the page.
Piper Castillo, Times staff writer