About Mary Ann

My short stories have been published in dozens of literary journals, including The Sun, the Massachusetts Review, and the North American Review. Pieces, my first collection of short fiction, includes stories nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net. A novel in stories, Pieces brings to life a large Irish-American family struggling with the aftershocks of alcoholism and domestic violence through three generations. Childhood demons morph in unexpected ways, and each sibling must strike his own bargain. That Very Place, my second collection, will reach bookstores in September 2025. These stories are set in locations—whether familiar or outlandish—that the characters believe they know. But trouble long avoided brings upheaval, and each is forced to explore what’s happening and make a choice.

In 2023, I began writing more creative nonfiction, recapturing the dark, often bizarre, and sometimes comical moments of growing up in the Bronx and Jersey City in a large Irish-Catholic family plagued by alcoholism, violence, neglect, and continual disruption. You can find these essays in Brevity, The Rumpus, Pithead Chapel, and many other journals.

Charles Scribner’s Sons published my first young-adult novel, Cloud Dancer, and three more have been published since then. The New York Public Library, the Junior Library Guild, and the Paterson Prize rank the novels among the best books for teens. My second novel, Where You Belong, was a finalist for the National Book Award and I later served on the panel of judges for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. 

After teaching for almost a decade, I was managing editor for two Bloomberg publications in New York and later publisher for Bloomberg Press. I was born in the Bronx, NY, which makes me a Yankees fan (mostly). I attended St. Peter’s University in Jersey City, NJ, and did some post-graduate work at Vermont College of Fine Arts..

About Fiction When It Matters Most

When I was very young, I used writing to create a place where grown-ups couldn’t go. Life at home was tumultuous, often violent, and always seemingly one step away from financial disaster. Into my stories I put my fears, shame, and hopes for what life could be. Those stories—and nearly all of what I wrote until Cloud Dancer was published in 1994—remained a secret.

In high school and college I met other young people who wrote fiction, and I shared some of my stories, but never the ones that reflected the life I knew and the lingering challenge of sorting it all out. It wasn’t until I was an adult, with two children of my own, that I began to share those stories with other writers and submit them for publication. Since then my fiction has appeared in dozens of literary journals, and I’ve discovered that my stories often touch the hiding places in people—even those who’ve grown up under very different, more fortunate circumstances.

As adults we can look back on events in our lives and come to terms with them. Kids don’t have that luxury. That’s why so much of my fiction is about teens trying to make sense of the chaos grown-ups create. The mayhem appears in many forms: families who can’t pay their rent, fathers who drink and terrorize their wives and children, adults who hate anyone who’s not white, parents who keep dark secrets. That was the world I grew up in. Today many young people are coping with turmoil just as bad—or worse. For them, the consequences of poverty, addiction, and violence are not make-believe. Those are the kids my novels are for, the ones in hiding—even if they’re not so young anymore.

The characters in my young adult fiction—and even in my stories for adults—are afraid to reveal their secret selves and risk rejection. They have good reason to be wary. People can hurt and betray us. But secrets have a cost. The scariest risk for me came when I chose to stop hiding who I was and how I’d grown up under the cover of fiction. Creative nonfiction lets me get to the truth in a way that’s both raw and refined—and maybe even a little inspiring.

I love to hear from readers—young and old. You can reach me on Facebook, Instagram, or on my Contact page