McElmurray, Karen Salyer: Wanting Radiance

Fifteen-year-old Miracelle Loving hears the gunshot that kills her mother, and runs to hold her while she dies. She spends the next two decades roaming, fortune telling and picking up odd jobs. Then, as if in a dream, she hears her mother’s voice urging her to seek answers about where she came from. Miracelle finds love, but isn’t ready for it, and she finds a possible path, but doesn’t recognize it. She embarks on a solitary journey that no amount of fortune telling can prepare her for and discovers a home she never knew, a father she never met, and a grandfather she didn’t know existed. Perhaps the most important thing she learns is that she can’t love another person if she doesn’t love herself.

Karen Salyer McElmurray earned an MFA in Fiction Writing from the University of Virginia, an MA in Creative Writing from Hollins University, and a PhD from the University of Georgia, where she studied American Literature and Fiction Writing. Her work has received numerous awards, including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. She writes both fiction and creative nonfiction and is frequently a visiting writer and lecturer at a variety of programs and reading series. Her memoir, Surrendered Child, won the AWP Award Series for Creative Nonfiction and was listed as a “notable book” by the National Book Critics Circle. She is also the author of Motel of the Stars, Editor’s Pick from Oxford American, and a Lit Life Book of the Year. Strange Birds in the Tree of Heaven (University of Georgia Press), a novel that won the Lillie Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing and, most recently, Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean, co-edited with Adrian Blevins, from Ohio University Press.  Her essays have won the Annie Dillard Prize, the New Southerner Prize, the Orison Magazine Anthology Award and have several times been Notable in Best American Essays.  A collection of her essays is forthcoming from Iris Books.