Maria Flook, currently a Senior Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at Emerson College in Boston, is the author of the story collection You Have the Wrong Man (1996); the novels Mothers and Lovers (2014), Lux (2004), Open Water (1995), and Family Night (1993); two books of poetry, Sea Room (1990) and Reckless Wedding, which won the Houghton Mifflin New Poetry Series in 1982; and the nonfiction works My Sister Life: The Story of My Sister’s Disappearance (2011) and Invisible Eden: A Story of Love and Murder on Cape Cod (2003), a New York Times bestseller. Her work has also appeared in, among other places, the New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, The New Criterion, and TriQuarterly. Family Night received a PEN American/Ernest Hemingway Foundation Special Citation and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year upon its publication. In 2007, Flook was recognized with a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Award in Fiction. She is also the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship. She holds an MFA from the University of Iowa. Prior to her appointment at Emerson, Flook taught at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, Warren Wilson College, Rhode Island College, and the Graduate Writing Seminars at Bennington College.
Two nuns and a penguin approach you at a bar, and you tell them you’re a writer. When they ask you what you write about, how do you answer?
I write about the human condition, and I am especially interested in fringe populations, and the challenges they face. Estranged persons, who have disconnections, from family, from acceptable factions of society. I like to follow them as they face their problems and try to find answers or at least find refuge from whatever devils are chasing them.