Published October 6, 2020

Jill McCorkle is the award-winning, bestselling author of Hieroglyphics and Life After Life. She has written for the New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and others. She is a faculty member of the Bennington College Writing Seminars.

Get to know Jill in this Q&A and then join us on Thursday, October 8 at 12pm ET to hear her discuss her work on SHELF LIFE: Family Secrets in Fiction: Jill McCorkle with Brendan Mathews.

Festival: What motivated you to become a writer? 

McCorkle: I have written since childhood—self entertainment—then when I was an undergrad, I took a writing course and was totally hooked.

Who or what are some of your creative influences?

I have favorite writers, for sure, and works I read early in life that continue to inspire me: Our Town, Diary of a Young Girl, The Glass Menagerie. I love The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter and Winesburg, Ohio. I love to read poetry and I like to garden. I think growing up around good story tellers—all that I have committed to memory about them—will always be inspiring.

What was your favorite part about writing your latest book?

I loved getting lost in the everybody details that make up a life.

Do you have any sources of inspiration that you come back to while writing? 

Yes, early memories sustain my work. I am drawn to the earliest experiences and the emotions that continue to translate in the adult world—same emotions, very different situations.

Describe how a book changed your life or perspective

Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl is one that changed my life. Anne Frank was a gifted writer and brilliant observer. I have read it many times since I was nine. The first times I read without fully understanding the circumstances of her life; I was simply drawn to her humor and her sense of herself as a young girl. With each reading, my admiration grew, and continues to do so.  

What is something that you’ve read recently and would recommend to others?

I’ve read many wonderful books lately: Randall Kenan’s If I Had Two Wings, Margot Livesey’s The Boy in the Field, Natasha Trethewey’s Memorial Drive, and Bobbie Ann Mason’s Dear Ann.

What are you working on next? 

I’m currently working on stories and a couple of essays.

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