“Her story-telling is riveting in the best tradition of the Irish.” — Bates College

Monica Wood is a novelist, memoirist, and playwright. Her most recent novel, The One-in-a-Million Boy, has been published in 22 languages in 30 countries and won a 2017 Nautilus Award (Gold) and the New England Society Book Award. She is also the author of When We Were the Kennedys, a New England bestseller, Oprah magazine summer-reading pick, and winner of the May Sarton Memoir Award and the 2016 Maine Literary Award. Her novel Any Bitter Thing was an ABA bestseller and Book Sense Top Ten pick. Her other fiction includes Ernie’s Ark, which has been excerpted on NPR’s “Selected Shorts” and selected by several towns and cities as their “One Book, One Community” read; My Only Story, a finalist for the Kate Chopin Award; and Secret Language, her first novel. Her widely anthologized short stories have won a Pushcart Prize and been featured on public radio. She also writes books for writers and teachers. Her nonfiction has appeared in Oprah, New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Parade, and many other publications. Her first play, Papermaker, debuted at Portland Stage in an extended run, its bestselling play ever. Her second play, The Half-Light, debuted at Portland Stage in 2019.

Monica was born in Maine, New England to an Irish Catholic family, and worked as a guidance counselor and in a nursing home before becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Maine with her husband.

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Ernie’s Ark: The Abbott Falls Stories

David R. Godine Publisher |
Short Stories

In nine interlinking stories, the town of Abbot Falls reacts as Ernie Whitten, pipefitter, builds a giant ark in his backyard. Ernie was weeks away from a pension-secured retirement when the union went on strike. Now his wife Marie is ill. Struck with sudden inspiration, Ernie builds the ark as a work of art for his wife to see from the window; a vessel to carry them both away; or a plea for God to spare Marie, come hell or high water.

As the ark takes shape, the rest of the town carries on. There’s Dan Little, a building-code enforcer who comes to fine Ernie for the ark and makes a significant discovery about himself; Francine Love, a precocious thirteen-year-old who longs to be a part of the family-like world of the union workers; and Atlantic Pulp & Paper CEO Henry John McCoy, an impatient man wearily determined to be a good father to his twenty-six-year-old daughter. The people of Abbott Falls will try their best to hold a community together, against the fiercest of odds. . . .

Few writers can capture the extraordinary within seemingly ordinary lives as does Monica Wood. An unforgettable tapestry of love, loneliness–and neighbors.

The One-in-a-Million Boy

Mariner Books |
Novel

The incandescent story of a 104-year-old woman and the sweet, strange young boy assigned to help her around the house — a friendship that touches each member of the boy’s unmoored family

For years, guitarist Quinn Porter has been on the road, chasing gig after gig, largely absent to his twice-ex-wife Belle and their odd, Guinness records–obsessed son. When the boy dies suddenly, Quinn seeks forgiveness for his paternal shortcomings by completing the requirements for his son’s unfinished Boy Scout badge. For seven Saturdays, Quinn does yard work for Ona Vitkus, the wily 104-year-old Lithuanian immigrant the boy had visited weekly. Quinn soon discovers that the boy had talked Ona into gunning for the world record for Oldest Licensed Driver — and that’s the least of her secrets. Despite himself, Quinn picks up where the boy left off, forging a friendship with Ona that allows him to know the son he never understood, a boy who was always listening, always learning. The One-in-a-Million Boy is a richly layered novel of hearts broken seemingly beyond repair and then bound by a stunning act of human devotion.

When We Were the Kennedys

Mariner Books |
Memoir

Winner of the 2012 Sarton Memoir Award

“Every few years, a memoir comes along that revitalizes the form…With generous, precise, and unsentimental prose, Monica Wood brilliantly achieves this . . . When We Were the Kennedys is a deeply moving gem!”—Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog and Townie

Mexico, Maine, 1963: The Wood family is much like its close, Catholic, immigrant neighbors, all dependent on the fathers’ wages from the Oxford Paper Company. But when Dad suddenly dies on his way to work, Mum and the four deeply connected Wood girls are set adrift. When We Were the Kennedys is the story of how a family, a town, and then a nation mourns and finds the strength to move on.

“On her own terms, wry and empathetic, Wood locates the melodies in the aftershock of sudden loss.”—Boston Globe

“[A] marvel of storytelling, layered and rich. It is, by turns, a chronicle of the renowned paper mill that was both pride and poison to several generations of a town; a tribute to the ethnic stew of immigrant families that grew and prospered there; and an account of one family’s grief, love, and resilience.”—Maine Sunday Telegram

Any Bitter Thing

Ballantine Books |
Memoir

After surviving a near-fatal accident, thirty-year-old Lizzy Mitchell faces a long road to recovery. She remembers little about the days she spent in and out of consciousness, save for one thing: She saw her beloved deceased uncle, Father Mike, the man who raised her in the rectory of his Maine church until she was nine, at which time she was abruptly sent away to boarding school. Was Father Mike an angel, a messenger from the beyond, or something more corporeal? Though her troubled marriage and her broken body need tending, Lizzy knows she must uncover the details of her accident–and delve deep into events of twenty years before, when whispers and accusations forced a good man to give up the only family he had. With deft insight into the snares of the human heart, Monica Wood has written an intimate and emotionally expansive novel full of understanding and hope.

My Only Story

Ballantine Books |
Novel

He came to me first in a dream, as a crippled dog angling down a country lane, puzzled by his sudden age, his bum paw, the dry stick clamped between his teeth. I’d been expecting this dream for a very long time, and I woke up moving. . . .

Rita Rosario has a gift, a way with people. She listens to them and really sees them for who they are–warts and all. And sometimes, she even knows how to guide them toward a new beginning. Women, even men, come to Rita’s beauty shop for perms, town gossip, and the makeovers of their very lives.

John Reed first appears to Rita in one of her dreams. When they meet at a town gathering a few days later, she immediately offers him a haircut, and her heart. As they share their stories, Rita senses she can help John fill a void by reconnecting him to his only family–a young niece he nearly lost in a heartbreaking tragedy. While inspiring John on a journey out of loneliness and into reconciliation, Rita begins to come to terms with events in her past . . . and discovers things about herself she never realized, including her own intimate role in John’s unfolding story.

After Failure - A Pot-Holed Road to Publishing

No Money, No Glory, Why Write?

Bolt of Lightning: Smashing the Myths of Creativity

The Seven Deadlies: How to Live a Creative Life Without Heading Straight for Hell

Keynote for Teachers: The Reader-Writer Connection

Monica’s Tips for Writers

Upcoming Events

Honors, Awards & Recognition

Nautilus Book Award Winner
New England Society
Maine Literary Awards, 2018

Media Kit

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