Cheryl Strayed's award-winning stories and essays have appeared in more than a dozen magazines, including the New York Times Magazine, Allure, Elle, and Nerve. Widely anthologized, her creative nonfiction has been selected twice for The Best American Essays, and Joyce Carol Oates singled her out for the opening piece in The Best New American Voices 2003. Raised in Minnesota, Strayed has worked as a political organizer for women's advocacy groups and was an outreach worker at a sexual violence center in Minneapolis. She holds an MFA from the Syracuse University Graduate Creative Writing Program. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
Since 2010, Cheryl has also been responsible for The Rumpus (therumpus.net) "Dear Sugar" column.
This biography was last updated on 02/15/2012.
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A Conversation with Cheryl Strayed
What can you tell us about the genesis of Torch?
I began to write the novel in its most rudimentary form more than ten years ago, when I was in my early twenties, shortly after my mother died young and of cancer, like the character of Teresa in the novel. My mother's death and my family's subsequent grief, which I fictionalized in Torch, lent itself to the kind of deep character excavation I was compelled to do as a writer. I've always been most interested in exploring relationships and delving into what motivates us, what complicates us, what crushes and saves us and, quite naturally, I've drawn from my own life experiences to do that in both my fiction and my nonfiction. The personal essays I've written for magazines like Allure and Self and the New York Times Magazine and The Sun all explore the same kinds of themes I do in Torch. Having said that, real life is only the raw material from which the story is spun and so the process of writing is not cathartic, but ...
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