In My Own Words

I was born in New Jersey in 1962; by the time I was five, my parents had settled in West Orange, a suburb close to New York where they still live. They'd also had my two sisters and later adopted my brother, cramming our modest house to capacity even before we added dogs, rodents, parakeets, fishtanks, turtles, snakes, salamanders, and sea monkeys, and beginning my lifelong love of animals (if also craving for solitude).

I attended public school in my mostly Italian-Catholic town (for more on this, see "Her Inner Jersey Girl") and college at Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Public Communications, where I majored in Magazine Journalism and English Literature and became the work-obsessed person I remain today. I graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa, with the Wolseley Award for magazine journalism and having completed an ASME internship at Seventeen magazine.

During most of the '80s, I lived happily alone in New York City and worked as an editor at Seventeen, with a two-year break to help write the prototype of a magazine called Back Home, for which I traveled around doing stories about churchgoing people in rural places. I also wrote for Seventeen and, later, for Elle, O, Self, Mirabella, Glamour, Parenting, Redbook, Child, and others; eventually I began writing fiction, and in 1990, I enrolled at the University of Arizona's MFA program, where school was free (I had a scholarship), living was cheap, and the desert mountains reigned majestically on all sides. There I met my now-husband, Daniel Jones; almost immediately, we became soulmates and partners for (I hope) life.

In Tucson, along with writing Seventeen's monthly advice column "Relating" (which eventually was syndicated to newspapers around the country) and briefly teaching Freshman Composition, I submerged myself in fiction. In 1992, I sold my first short story, "Leftovers," to (where else?) Seventeen.

Dan and I married in 1992, but we didn't live together until we moved back to New York six months later. Though excited to set up house with Dan, I also mourned the loss of my solitude, an ambivalence I mined in my writing. (See "A Bed of One's Own.") In New York, I finished my MFA thesis—my novel My Sister's Bones—and sold it in a two-book deal. I quickly became pregnant, and I spent the next few nauseated months rather desperately trying to write a second novel, make a living, and learn about babies. Don't ask if that novel is a bleak and histrionic story about a pregnant woman running away from New York. Or if it ever got published. However, one of the better chapters from that novel evolved into the short story "The Dinner Date," recently published by Atria/Simon & Schuster as an e-story. (To buy it, click here.)

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Cathi Hanauer