Tawni O'Dell Biography
Tawni O'Dell is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels
Sister Mine, Coal Run, Fragile Beasts, and Back Roads, which was an
Oprah's Book Club pick and a Book-of-the-Month Club Main Selection. Back
Roads is currently in development to be made into a film by Michael Ohoven
at Infinity Media, the producer of the Academy-Award-winning, Capote.
She is also a contributor to the anthology, Becoming Myself: Reflections on
Growing Up Female.
Born and raised in Indiana (also the hometown of Jimmy Stewart) in the
Allegheny Mountains of western Pennsylvania ("a beautiful ruined place where the
rolling hills are pitted with dead gray mining towns like cigarette burns on a
green carpet") ODell has been writing fiction since she read
Roald Dahl's James and
the Giant Peach when she was six years old. By the time she was
eight she had a stack of her own short stories. When she was ten she read
To Kill a Mockingbird four times in a row which was the catalyst for her
lifelong love of southern writers such as Truman Capote,
William Styron, Carson McCullers, William Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor.
She is the only member of her family to have gone to college. Her high
school guidance counselor advised her against going to Northwestern University
because they had a bad football team. Even after she explained to him that she
wanted to be a journalist and NU had one of the best journalism schools in the
country, he said, "Well, sure, but you'll still want to go to the football
games." she went anyway and graduated with honors.
She spent thirteen years in the Chicago area before moving back to Pennsylvania
where she now lives with her two children her husband, literary translator
This biography was last updated on 07/08/2011.
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