Paula McLain biography

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Paula McLain
Photo: Stephen Cutri

Paula McLain

Paula McLain Biography

Paula McLain was born in Fresno, California in 1965. After being abandoned by both parents, she and her two sisters became wards of the California Court System, moving in and out of various foster homes for the next fourteen years. When she aged out of the system, she supported herself by working as a nurses aid in a convalescent hospital, a pizza delivery girl, an auto-plant worker, a cocktail waitress–before discovering she could (and very much wanted to) write. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan in 1996.

She is the author of The Paris Wife, a New York Times and international bestseller, which has been published in thirty-four languages. The recipient of fellowships from Yaddo, The MacDowell Colony, the Cleveland Arts Prize, the Ohio Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, she is also the author of two collections of poetry; a memoir, Like Family, Growing up in Other People's Houses; and a first novel, A Ticket to Ride. She lives with her family in Cleveland.



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Interview

A conversation with Paula McLain about her 2015 novel Circling The Sun about Beryl Markham, a woman before her time

In Circling The Sun you return to the 1920s, a period you recreated so brilliantly in The Paris Wife, with a cast of characters who are just as fascinating. This time we're in colonial British Kenya, learning about Beryl Markham, a heroine both brave and fiercely self-reliant, but somewhat forgotten in history. What inspired you to write about Beryl?

Beryl was a totally wonderful accident as a subject. After The Paris Wife, I began working on another historical novel, but it just wouldn't come together. For whatever reason, I couldn't find the voice of the book, and was completely stuck. During that time—this would have been spring of 2013, I went on vacation to Orlando with my sister and soon-to-be-brother-in-law. He's a doctor and a pilot, and as we were poolside that weekend, he kept looking up from the book he was reading, Beryl Markham's West With the Night, and saying, "You have got to read about this woman. She's amazing." I was far too busy being miserable with the other project to listen, but took the book home and stashed it on a shelf in my dining room, where it gathered dust for another year and a half before I picked it up. When I finally did, though: wow! In an instant I was mesmerized by Beryl's ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Paula McLain at BookBrowse
When the Stars Go Dark jacket Love and Ruin jacket Circling the Sun jacket The Paris Wife jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Paula McLain but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Melanie Benjamin

    Melanie Benjamin

    Melanie Benjamin was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. An avid reader all her life - as a child, she was the proud winner, several years running, of the summer reading program at her local library - she still firmly believes ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Paris Wife

    Try:
    The Aviator's Wife
    by Melanie Benjamin

  • Amy Bloom

    Amy Bloom

    Author of three New York Times best-sellers and three collections of short stories, a children's book (another coming in 2022) and a ground-breaking collection of essays. Bloom has been a nominee for both the National Book ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Paris Wife

    Try:
    White Houses
    by Amy Bloom

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