The short story

Kristi Tuck Austin, writer, author assistant and media escortWhile researching my YA manuscript, I waded New York City sewers, ran from trains, and slid through a water pipe to the Harlem River. I celebrated Thanksgiving 2013 in the Paris catacombs, hiking, crawling, wading (again), and dining by candlelight.

In my daily life, which is dry and aboveground, I am an authors’ assistant and media escort. I have served as board chair of James River Writers, a non-profit literary organization in Richmond, Virginia. I’ve been a member and volunteer for a number of years, leading the Writing Show in 2012 and the JRW Conference in 2012 and 2013. I served as vice chair prior to being elected chair.

I’ve worked as a museum technician at The Valentine Richmond History Center and Henrico Museum Services, where I spent my days in quiet museum storage surrounded by objects from Ellen Glasgow, Edgar Allan Poe, several U.S. Presidents, and a woman who collected hundreds of thimbles. I left this world of historic couture and ceramic dogs to pursue writing. I’ve also organized events for a local indie bookstore, sold farm supplies, and worked on my family’s farm. I’ve assisted authors since 2012.

The novella

Catacomb mosaic, Paris
Catacomb mosaic, Paris

I blame my love of stories on my parents. They read bedtime stories to me until I was old enough to read them to my siblings. As they’re quick to remind, it wasn’t one bedtime story a night, it was more like ten.

My sister and brother are at fault for my love of storytelling. They were an enthusiastic audience for the bedtime stories I created for them, often about a squirrel named Ms. Oak.

I grew up gallivanting and working on a family farm outside Virgilina (Virginia + Carolina = Virgilina), a village where my family has lived for at least 200 years.

At the University of Virginia, I studied themes of illicit love and dream visions in medieval literature, fell in love with John Donne’s poetry, and learned the origins of scapegoats. I’ve attended seminary, briefly waited tables, and worked at a tractor supply store.

An introvert by nature, I found solace working as a museum technician. I spent each day in quiet museum storage surrounded by objects from Ellen Glasgow, Edgar Allan Poe, several dead U.S. Presidents, and a woman who collected hundreds of thimbles. I left this world of historic couture and ceramic dogs to pursue writing (a move I can blame on my generous and incredibly supportive husband, Adam).

Adam and I live in Richmond, Virginia, where we spend hours hanging around independent bookstores.

I was proud to serve on the Board of Directors for James River Writers, a phenomenal writing community based in Richmond, Virginia. In 2012, I organized JRW’s Writing Show, a monthly educational series for writers. I’m lucky to be a two-time chair of the James River Writers Conference. I headed the board of directors in 2014 and 2015. I hope to see you at our 14th annual conference, October 14-16, 2016.

I’m also a member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and Virginia Writers Club.

While researching my YA novel, Potter’s Field, I waded New York City sewers, ran from trains in tunnels, and slid through a water pipe to the Harlem River. I celebrated Thanksgiving 2013 in the Paris catacombs, hiking, crawling, wading (again), and dining by candlelight. You can find out more about Potter’s Field and view photos here.

Literary loves*

In third grade, I devoured books by E.B. White. After reading Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe, I inspected the rear of Grandma’s wardrobe, though I knew the difference between fiction and reality.** Then there was Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. My love of every book from Elizabeth George Speare and Madeleine L’Engle continues today. I read Tuck Everlasting at least once a year, always around the first week of August. Stories by Ray Bradbury sparked an undying affection for science fiction. I’ve wept through books by Chaim Potok, Elie Wiesel, James McBride, Toni Morrison, and Maya Angelou. I’m an evangelist for Octavia Butler, The Dresden Files, and YA novels, in general. If I could have Peter’s powers from the TV show Heroes, I’d stalk Neil Gaiman.***

*This is not a comprehensive list and might change tomorrow. If you ask for a favorite book, I can’t tell you. Don’t try to imagine how these authors influence my writing style; it’ll only hurt your head. I tried once.

** I’m quite convinced now there is no difference between fiction and truth. As for reality, I still sometimes grope around in wardrobes.

*** Considering I’ve yet to find a radioactive empath to bite me, I don’t think this will happen, so Neil, you’re safe. For now.

Media appearances and online mentions are listed here.