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Native Texan and author of Valentine
, the bestselling debut set in the oil fields of Texas in the 1970s, discusses the influence of place in her work.
Elizabeth Wetmore will read a couple of short excerpts from her debut novel, Valentine
, and will talk briefly about the joys and hazards of setting her first novel in her hometown. She will use as a starting point an excerpt from an interview with Eudora Welty in the The Paris Review: When asked if place was a source of inspiration for her fiction, Welty replied, "Not only that, it's my source of knowledge. It tells me the important things. It steers me and keeps me going straight, because place is a definer and a confiner of what I'm doing. It helps me to identify, to recognize and explain.... It saves me
." (Emphases are Wetmore's.)
Before devoting herself to writing, Elizabeth variously tended bar, taught English, drove a cab, edited psychology dissertations, and painted silos and cooling towers at a petrochemical plant. For a time, she lived in a one-room cabin in the woods outside of Flagstaff, Arizona while she worked as a classical music announcer.
A native of West Texas, she is most at home in the desert, near the sea, or on the side of a mountain. She lives in Chicago, but she dreams of being bicoastal (Lake Michigan and Lake Travis). A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Elizabeth has been the grateful recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and two fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council. Set in the oilfields of West Texas in 1976, Valentine
is her first novel.