Therese Anne Fowler (pronounced ta-reece) is the third child and only daughter of a couple who raised their children in Milan, Illinois. An avowed tomboy as a child, Therese thwarted her grandmother’s determined attempts to dress her in frills–and, to further her point, insisted on playing baseball despite her town having a perfectly good girls’ softball league. She was one of the first girls in the U.S. to play Little League baseball.
A reader since age four, she often abused her public and school library privileges by keeping favorite books out just a little too long. When domestic troubles led to unpleasant upheaval during her adolescence, the Rock Island Public Library became her refuge.
After a too-early first marriage and a stint as the single mother of two terrific (now grown-up) sons, she went on to earn a BA in sociology/cultural anthropology and an MFA in creative writing. Though her short fiction won some acclaim and she has contributed essays to publications internationally, she is, at heart, a novelist.
A book’s fate is almost entirely outside its author’s control. Some are published with a lot of marketing and publicity support, but most are not. After the publication of three contemporary novels, each of which sold fewer copies than the previous one, Therese faced a hard truth: her career was in a nosedive. Her editor at the time felt she should take on a pen name and try again with the same sort of book, but Therese was not persuaded. While she was considering some ideas she had for historical novels, Zelda Fitzgerald came to mind and Therese decided to see where this new idea might lead. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald was the result.
Therese’s work, including the previous novels, has been translated into more than twenty foreign languages and is published around the world. Z is now available as an original dramatic series for Amazon Studios starring Christina Ricci, with Killer Films producing. Season Two of Z: The Beginning of Everything is in production, with an anticipated release date of late 2018.
What Therese has discovered is that she has an affinity for badass women from history whose stories have been either mistold or are largely untold. Her next novel centers on Alva Smith Vanderbilt Belmont, a determined, opinionated, compassionate, often amusing woman from America’s Gilded Age. The novel, a kind of homage to Edith Wharton with a dash of affection for Jane Austen for good measure, has the working title Scenes of Her Own Making, a nod to Wharton’s The House of Mirth. It will be published by St. Martin’s Press, release date TBD.
Therese has been a visiting professor at North Carolina State University and occasionally teaches fiction writing at conferences and workshops. A member of Phi Beta Kappa and PEN America, she is married to distinguished professor and author John Kessel. They reside in North Carolina.
(photo by Tom Clark)