Dennis Tafoya was born in Philadelphia and attended Oberlin College. He dropped out and worked a series of jobs, including housepainter, hospital orderly and EMT before starting a career in industrial sales. He began writing poetry, publishing stories in journals, and then started work on Dope Thief, his acclaimed debut novel. His new novel, The Wolves of Fairmount Park, releases this month.
Lenny Picker interviewed Tafoya for Publishers Weekly. Part of their dialogue:
How did your experiences lead you to write your novels?Learn more about the author and his work at Dennis Tafoya's website.
When I was an EMT in a Philadelphia emergency room, biker gangs used to rent farmhouses and set up speed labs in the countryside not far away. One night, one of the labs burned, and we got calls all night from people asking how to take care of burns. A few days later, a badly burned body showed up in the woods. That stuck in my head, and ever since I’ve wondered how somebody ends up in a burning meth lab in the middle of the night, and if you’ve come to that place, is there any way back? Is it possible to create characters who get involved in that kind of life and who can still claim our sympathy?
What was the genesis of Wolves?
My amazing agent sold a two-book deal based on one sentence about the second book—a heroin addict trying to solve a murder in Philadelphia. I’d been thinking about the idea for a while, but I really didn’t have more than that for a long time. I knew I wanted...[read on]
The Page 69 Test: Dope Thief.
Writers Read: Dennis Tafoya.