Originally from the Chicago area, Monica Hileman lived in Portland, Oregon before moving cross country to the Atlantic coast. Two years in Greensboro, North Carolina yielded an MFA from UNC-G and even more appreciation for regional differences. In 2010 her collection of stories was a finalist for the Bakeless Prize. The following year she was first runner up for the Miami University Press Novella Prize. (Those are just two of the awards she came close to winning.) The recipient of fellowships from the Somerville Arts Council, Ragdale, and the Vermont Studio Center, she currently lives just north of Boston.
Her stories have appeared in journals such as Catamaran Literary Reader, Arts & Letters, The Baffler, the Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Journal, and Flyway: Journal
of Writing & Environment (nominated by
the editors for The Best of the Net).
Here's an interview with her that appeared in the Poetry and Small Press Scene.
This particular Monica Hileman is not currently on social media.
My earliest literary effort was a kindergarten project called Me, Myself, and I. On occasion, I enjoyed making cards (Happy Birthday, Christmas, Get Well). My sister would do the graphics and I would write the greeting.
I loved to read. Sam and the Firefly was my first favorite book. The Witch of Blackbird Pond another. A vivid memory of being curled up on a rainy day with a story I couldn’t put down has stayed with me all these years. The book was Jane Eyre. The next book what gripped me in its feverish clutches was Crime and Punishment. I read it too young, I think. It was assigned reading in my sister’s high school English class, so I must have been thirteen or so, already fairly alienated. I had fallen out with the Church, the government was bombing the hell out of a small country in Asia where people still plowed fields with oxen (we saw the horror on the nightly news), and it was clear that Mom and Dad did not love each other.
Other books I remember: East of Eden (Had to read it after seeing the movie because I identified so much with the James Dean character.) In high school we passed around On the Road, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Candy, Catch 22. I was a solid C student, just doing enough to get by. Except for one year in English, there was a teacher, I think his name was Mr. Morgan, whose enthusiasm rubbed off on me and I got a B in that class. I also remember, maybe it was senior year, reading and being impressed with The Grapes of Wrath and 1984.
In my twenties I read Doris Lessing and and Margaret Atwood. I later discovered Alice Munro and Mavis Gallant, after I had started writing myself, first filling notebooks with sketches that expanded into stories. I went to the New York State Writers’ Institute one summer and that workshop with Russell Banks was a turning point The following year I went to get my MFA in fiction at UNC-Greensboro.