Nina McConigley

Teton County Library Resident Writer

We kick off our Writing the West author series with our first-ever resident writer, Nina McConigley, who teaches at the University of Wyoming and the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. Join us for one or all of her public programs:

Writing Workshop: Creating Compelling Characters

MON, MAY 8, 6-7:30
How do you write characters with whom audiences can connect? In other words, how do you create sympathy, empathy or interest (both negative and positive) without too much telling? In this workshop, participants look at the traits and behavior of some of the most interesting characters in current literature, and then write according to prompts provided by the instructor for creating distinctive characters. We will think deeply about our characters – what moves them? What are their deepest desires, fears, ambitions, secrets? We will see how they react in difficult circumstances, at moments of clarity and conflict that define their stories.

Reading: Writing the New West

WED, MAY 10, 6:00 p.m.
McConigley reads from her current stories and her novel-in-progress. She talks about "Writing the New West" – how literature of the American West is changing, and how the shape of this region is being reimagined and rewritten in new and inventive stories.

Writing Workshop: It’s All About Me, Writing the Self

THURS, MAY 11, 3-4:30 p.m.
The old adage is to write what you know. Which is great – but as fiction writers, it's sometimes safer to fictionalize what you know. In this craft class, we talk about how to take real life experience and fictionalize it. Looking at published texts and with in-class writing, we explore how to write about what you know –  and how to use the truth to go into imaginary places. Discuss the decision to write memoir or autobiographical fiction and how to portray one's truth when other people's lives and feelings may be at stake. Consider finding and owning your story, understanding the responsibility of the narrative power you wield, and taking precautions with the people you love.

  • "McConigley’s deft prose takes people who don’t quite fit, who are not supposed to fit, and makes them part of the landscape…McConigley writes about Wyoming with the same mythic nostalgia that many Southern writers write about the South"  -The Los Angeles Review of Books

About Nina McConigley

NINA McCONIGLEY is the author of the story collection Cowboys and East Indians, which was the winner of the 2014 PEN Open Book Award and winner of a High Plains Book Award. It also was on the longlist for the 2014 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. She was born in Singapore and grew up in Wyoming. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston, where she was an Inprint Brown Foundation Fellow. She also holds an MA in English from the University of Wyoming and a BA in Literature from Saint Olaf College. She is the winner of a Barthelme Memorial Fellowship in Non-Fiction and served as the Non-Fiction Editor of Gulf Coast: a Journal of Literature and Fine Arts. She has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and for The Best New American Voices. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Orion, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Salon, American Short Fiction, Memorious, Slice Magazine, and Asian American Literary Review. She is at work on a novel.

Postfrontier Fiction: a reading list from Nina


Cormac McCarthy
Wallace Stegner
Larry McMurtry
Annie Proulx
William Kittredge
Jim Harrison
Sherman Alexie
Louise Erdrich
N. Scott Momaday
Leslie Marmon Silko
Joy Harjo
Layli Long Soldier
Natalie Diaz
Sherwin Bistui

Recommended Books

Gretel Ehrlich, The Solace of Open Spaces
Michael Ondaatje, The Collected Works of Billy the Kidd
Claire Vaye Watkins, Battleborn
Paisley Rekdal, Intimate
Laura Bell, Claiming Ground
Ted Conover, Whiteout, Lost in Aspen
Patrick Dewitt, The Sisters Brothers
Brian Evenson, A Collapse of Horses
Alyson Hagy, Ghosts of Wyoming
Smith Henderson, Fourth of July Creek
Maile Meloy, Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It
Vestal McIntire, Lake Overturn
Bonnie Nadzam, Lions
 Bich Minh Nguyen, Pioneer Girl
Ben Percy, Refresh Refresh
Laura Pritchett, Stars Go Blue
Justin St. Germain, Son of a Gun
Vu Tran, Dragonfish
Brady Udall, The Lonely Polygamist
Shawn Vestal, Godforsaken Idaho
Andria Williams, The Longest Night
Joy Williams, Collected Stories or The Quick and the Dead
Callan Wink, Dog, Run, Moon