Thursday, July 28, 2011

Nobodies Does It Better: A Profile of Carolyn Parkhurst

Bestselling author Carolyn Parkhurst credits The Writer’s Center with starting her on the path to a career as a successful novelist. Carolyn explains that, right after college, “I was feeling aimless. I knew I wanted to ‘become a writer,’ but I had no idea how to make that happen.”

She was working at the now-defunct B. Dalton’s on K Street and writing in her spare time. Unlike many who consider themselves “beginners,” she had already published a few short stories in literary journals, and nonfiction work in outlets like Seventeen magazine. But Carolyn readily admits that “without deadlines, it wasn’t easy to motivate myself to stay on track.” 

When she found her way to The Writer’s Center, she found her focus. Classes with Richard Peabody and Ann McLaughlin, among others, provided deadlines and helpful critiques as well as an antidote to the isolation of the writer’s life. She realized that part of what had been missing for her was this critical feedback on her work. An early story of hers that was critiqued in a Writer’s Center workshop went on to be published in the North American Review

Ultimately, Carolyn’s experiences at The Writer’s Center convinced her to consider enrolling in an m.f.a. program. She graduated from The American University’s program and soon went on to publish The Dogs of Babel, the first of her three novels, which propelled her to bestseller stardom. Her second novel, Lost and Found, was selected for USA Today’s 10 Hot Summer Reads list. And in a review of her newest novel, The Nobodies Album, Publishers Weekly said that she demonstrates the “gift of the real storyteller.” That book is now available in paperback.(Visit Carolyn's Web site to learn more about each of her books.)

In case anyone thinks Carolyn’s range is limited to serious literary fiction, the book trailer for The Nobodies Album showcases another side of her talents—her comic genius. She conceived and wrote the script herself. 

After all this time and success, Carolyn still feels a strong connection with the Center. “I always recommend classes at The Writer’s Center to beginning local writers who are floundering on their own and would like to be part of a writing community.” 

Paula Whyman's fiction has appeared in literary journals and anthologies, including Writes of Passage: Coming-of-Age Stories and Memoirs From The Hudson Review. Her humor and commentary have appeared in The Washington Post and on NPR, and she's the creator of the online parody Bethesda World News (  Paula teaches through the Pen/Faulkner Foundation Writers in Schools program in DC, and The Hudson Review's similar program in NY. She's a VCCA Fellow and was recently selected for a MacDowell Colony Fellowship.  Her fiction is forthcoming in Gargoyle Magazine. Visit her online at

The book trailer in question:


Lara said...

The link for Amy Stolls in the first paragraph gives a 404 error.

Kyle said...

Thanks, Lara. I will fix that.