Before working as a corrections officer in Rutland, Vermont, Wayne Harrison was an auto mechanic for six years in Waterbury, Connecticut. A first-generation college student, he began in his mid twenties as a criminal justice major before getting turned on to creative writing by mentor and friend Jeffrey Greene. He later received an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
Harrison's fiction has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered. His short stories appear in Best American Short Stories 2010, The Atlantic, Narrative Magazine, McSweeney’s, Ploughshares, Crazyhorse, The Sun, Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, FiveChapters, New Letters and other magazines. His fiction has earned a Maytag fellowship, an Oregon Literary fellowship and a Fishtrap Writing Fellowship. He teaches writing at Oregon State University.
Harrison's debut novel is The Spark and the Drive.
From his Q & A with Caroline Leavitt at The Rumpus:
The Rumpus: You were kind of a bad boy in your youth (you tried to sell a kilo of cocaine you found in a police auction car) but you became an acclaimed author, husband, and father, a life you might never have expected. But were there ever inklings of this life when you were little? A love of reading, of listening to stories? And does the way your life worked out make you believe in fate at all?The Page 69 Test: The Spark and the Drive.
Wayne Harrison: My mother is always telling me things happen for a reason, and finally I think I’m becoming a believer. For instance, without the trouble—the crimes I escaped punishment for, the near alcoholism, the car racing that forced me to register my Chevelle in another state, close friends dying and going to jail—I wouldn’t have turned to law enforcement to straighten myself out. Without that intention, I wouldn’t have started college, wouldn’t have taken a creative writing class junior year, wouldn’t have lived in Iowa for two years and realized I wanted no more snow or humidity, wouldn’t have met my beautiful wife on the west coast and been blessed by our two lovely daughters, and by teaching jobs that enabled me to support a pretty severe writing addiction. There is a safeguarding. I’m feeling pretty sure of that these days.
I wish I could credit voracious reading as my primary training...[read on]
Writers Read: Wayne Harrison.