As a novelist I write from the impulse that creating fiction is a process of discovery and that a writer should follow their interests and their curiosity, especially when these interests lead them into weird or unexpected territory. Because this territory is singular to each writer this process can be encouraged but not exactly taught. But the mechanics of writing can be taught, and as a teacher I tend to focus most heavily on narrative structure, conflict, and character arc, and how these areas intersect, drive one another, and ultimately become the engines that take the reader through the author’s aforementioned territories.
My debut novel The Readymade Thief (Viking, 2017) follows a homeless teenager navigating the Philadelphia underground—a shadowy world of urban exploration, consciousness-obliterating psychedelics, the dark net, and the shotgun marriage of alchemy and string theory—as she tries to uncover a message that may or may not have been encoded within the works of early twentieth-century artist Marcel Duchamp.
Currently I’m working on a novel I describe as Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man meets Training Day set in a San Francisco high school in 1984. It follows a young artist-to-be taken under the wing of a teenage provocateur who introduces him to a life of crime and cultural subversion. The novel is also about my hometown, San Francisco, especially as a once-haven for weirdo visionairies and iconoclasts transformed into a capitalist playground.
I also dabble in screenwriting, and my screenplay Far from Cool was a finalist for the Academy Nicholl Awards.
Work with Students
I’ve advised everything from novels-in-progress to story collections to screenplays to a single-paragraph experimental novella. I don’t judge or discriminate according to genre, only by the quality of the work. I see it as my job to help students evolve as writers, thinkers, readers, and researchers, all in the service of helping that student create work that is as close as possible to their own vision of what they want it to be.
- Technical Seminar in Research and Worldbuilding
- Fundamentals in Creative Writing: The Question of Perspective
- Fundamentals in Creative Writing: The Grammar of Narrative
- Thesis & Special Projects Workshop
- Advanced Workshop: Narrative Structure and Character Arc
- Advanced Workshop: Narrative Questions & Rate of Revelation
- Advanced Workshop: Novel Writing, the First Chapters
- Advanced Workshop: Plot
- Beginning Workshop: Character and Characterization
- Reading as a Writer: Crime & Story
- The Readymade Thief (New York: Viking Books, 2017). Editions and translations also published in the UK, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Italy.