Weird Journeys for Novel Writing: Blending History & Imagination to Build Outsider Characters
With Paulette Livers, Kelly Mcnees and Brian Leung
Join us July 20th as we welcome Livers, Mcnees & Leung to discuss the myriad of weird journeys their novel writing has taken - especially for three writers known for incredible historical fiction writing.
Brian Leung was born and raised in San Diego County, a somewhat unlikely location given that his mother was born in Battleground, Washington and his father escaped from China in 1949. For many years Brian lived in Los Angeles, where he studied the city's kinetic diversity and found his literary voice. Today he resides in a Shotgun house built in 1898 in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the Director of Creative Writing at Purdue University.
His novel Take Me Home earned a Kirkus starred review. Set in 1885 Wyoming, it is centered around Addie Maine, a feisty young woman who leaves Kentucky to join her brother in homesteading. Not long after her arrival, Addie is confronted by something wholly new to her: Chinese people. The story occurs during the historical riot in which twenty-eight Chinese coal miners were massacred. Addie’s relationship with Wang Lee is the dramatic heart of Take Me Home.
His acclaimed story collection, World Famous Love Acts, won the Mary McCarthy Award in Short Fiction and the Asian American Literary Award for fiction. He is the author of two other novels, the recent Ivy vs Dogg, and Lost Men, about which Publisher’s Weekly wrote “Leung gingerly reacquaints an estranged father and son who travel through China in this sagacious and lyrical debut novel.” His books have been published in France and Italy.
Brian’s fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry have appeared in Story, Crazyhorse, Grain, Gulf Coast, Kinesis, The Barcelona Review, Mid-American Review, Salt Hill, Gulf Stream, River City, Runes, The Bellingham Review, Hyphen, Velocity, The Connecticut Review, Blithe House Quarterly, Indiana Review, Crab Orchard Review, Crowd, and in the short story anthology The Habit of Art. The recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, Brian earned his B.A. and MA. at California State University, and an M.F.A from Indiana University.
Kelly O’Connor McNees is the author of four novels, including the just released Undiscovered Country, the story of journalist Lorena Hickok’s long love affair with Eleanor Roosevelt. It received a front page review in the New York Times Book Review last month, calling McNees “an adept historical novelist” whose Undiscovered Country is “politically detailed fiction with Hick’s ultimate solitude, and her disappointment, at its heart.”
About her novel The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, the Washington Post said, “Devotees of Little Women will flock to this story with pleasure.” She is also the author of The Island of Doves, and In Need of a Good Wife, a finalist for the 2013 Willa Award. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Toast, and in Rust Belt Chicago: An Anthology.
Born and raised in Michigan, Kelly lives in Chicago with her family.
Paulette Livers’s novel Cementville (Counterpoint) received the Elle magazine Lettres Prize, and was a finalist for the Center for Fiction's Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, the Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year, and the Kentucky Literary Award. Her work has been supported by fellowships and grants, including Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, Illinois Arts Council, the MacDowell Colony, Ox-Bow Artist Residence, Vermont Studio Center, and Virginia Center for Creative Artists.
She taught creative writing while earning the MFA at University of Colorado. The recipient of Southwest Review's Meyerson Prize for Fiction, her work has been honorably-mentioned or shortlisted for the International Bridport Prize, Lamar York Prize, Mosher Prize for Short Fiction, and Red Hen Press Short Story Award, among others. Her stories and essays appear in many print and online journals. Her career includes over 20 years as a painter, and as an art director and book designer for publishing companies around the US. Paulette teaches in workshops and presents on creative writing and publishing topics internationally, and is on the faculty at Story Studio Chicago. She is Creative Director at Mighty Sword Studio, specializing in fine book design, editing, and helping publishers, writers, and artists bring their work to the printed page.
She lives right here in Wicker Park.