Valerie Miner is the award-winning author of fourteen books. Her new novel, Traveling with Spirits, was published by Livingston Press in 2013. Other novels include After Eden, Range of Light, A Walking Fire, Winter’s Edge, Blood Sisters, All Good Women, Movement: A Novel in Stories, and Murder in the English Department. Her short fiction books include Abundant Light, The Night Singers and Trespassing. Her collection of essays is Rumors from the Cauldron: Selected Essays, Reviews and Reportage.
Valerie Miner’s work has appeared in The Georgia Review, Salmagundi, New Letters, Ploughshares, The Village Voice, Prairie Schooner, The Gettysburg Review, Conditions, The T.L.S., The Women’s Review of Books, The Nation and other journals. Her stories and essays are published in more than sixty anthologies. Her collaborative work includes books, museum exhibits as well as theatre. A number of her pieces have been dramatized on BBC Radio 4.
She has won fellowships and awards from The Rockefeller Foundation, Fondazione Bogliasco, Fundación Valparaiso, The McKnight Foundation, The NEA, The Jerome Foundation, The Heinz Foundation, The Australia Council Literary Arts Board and numerous other sources. She has had Fulbright Fellowships to Tunisia, India and Indonesia.
Winner of a Distinguished Teaching Award, she has taught for over twenty-five years and is now an artist-in-residence and professor at Stanford University. She travels internationally giving readings, lectures and workshops. She and her partner live in San Francisco and Mendocino County, California
I don’t know whether I am first a writer or a traveler, but I became interested in exploring and storytelling early in my childhood. In the kitchen, I listened to my mother’s memories of her native Edinburgh, window-shopping along Princes Street, errands to the corner shop to buy chipped fruit and The News of the World. Out in our back garden, I sat on the lawn while my seaman father tied up his beef steak tomatoes, drank iced tea and described the brilliant fabrics he had seen in Argentina and the tasty seaweed he had eaten in Japan.
During the many months he was on the ocean, I awaited his return, eager for more stories and especially eager for the new doll he would bring dressed in a local fashion. Those dolls from Korea and Japan and Holland and Jamaica and the Dominican Republic now sit together on my bookcase. Just as I always knew each one had a distinct personality, I knew this personality was related to her place of origin.
As an adult I lived abroad for ten years in England, Australia, India, Canada and other countries and traveled widely in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Now I faced ethical and moral and spiritual questions about the differences between visiting and trespassing, describing and appropriating.
Such travelling made coming “home” that much more fascinating because I now knew other places (settings) to which I compared familiar food and voices and climate. Home became something smaller and larger and far more complicated than the place I left. And I was never able to think about home again without seeing it on a map – in context. Home wasn’t the center of the world anymore, but it was finally in the world.
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