Ann Packer was born in Stanford, California, in 1959, and grew up near Stanford University, where her parents were professors. She attended Yale University and then, after five years working at a publishing company in New York, she went on to the Iowa Writers Workshop, selling her first short story to The New Yorker a few weeks before receiving her degree. A fellowship at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing followed, and she spent two years living in Madison, Wisconsin, which would later become the setting of her first novel, The Dive from Clausen's Pier.
While living in Wisconsin, Packer published short stories in literary magazines and had a story chosen for inclusion in the annual O. Henry Awards prize stories anthology. With support from the Michener-Copernicus Society of America, she completed her first book, Mendocino and Other Stories. The National Endowment for the Arts provided a fellowship, and she spent much of the next decade working on The Dive from Clausen's Pier. A critical success that became a national bestseller and was translated into ten languages, Dive received a Great Lakes Book Award, an American Library Association Award, and the Kate Chopin Literary Award. Packer's also wrote the bestselling Songs Without Words (2007) and Swim Back to Me (2011).
This biography was last updated on 08/08/2015.
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A conversation with Ann Packer, author of The Dive from Clausen's Pier
In The Dive From Clausen's Pier your 23-year-old heroine, Carrie
Bell, is torn between whether to stay or go when her fiancé becomes
quadriplegic after a terrible accident. It is a coming-of-age story that draws
us in immediately to a complex web of moral dilemmas. What made you tackle this
That's a hard question, because it assumes an awareness of why one writes what one writes, and a measure of control over one's subjects that I don't think can really exist. I know HOW I began to write The Dive From Clausen's Pier; that is, I can locate the earliest retrievable moment in the process, which was a phrase I jotted down in my notebook, along the lines of "a woman whose boyfriend is injured in maybe a hunting accident." Looking back, I can see that I was intrigued by the ambiguities of the situation: he's her boyfriend, not her husband; he's injured, not killed. I imagine I was wondering what I'd do if I were this woman, how I'd find a way to live with and understand the choices I'd make.
Getting back to the why, though: I think that's more complex and perhaps not fully ...
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