When Beth started dying in Little Women, my nine-year-old self was convinced that was the best course of action for me, as well. Ostensibly, I was on summer vacation with my family at Lake Tahoe, but in my head I was not fidgeting in the back seat with my brother but indeed dying — most romantically and stoically, of course, a la Beth.

Thank God I snapped out of it as now I engage in more effort than I care to think about trying not to effect that outcome, at least not yet.

Still, it’s okay for others to die…fictionally, of course. In fact, it’s good when you’re writing murder mysteries.

People do die, but rather charmingly so, in my just-launched series, Classic Book Club Mysteries.

Previous to embarking on the series, people and other beings also expired in my literary fiction, though there’s almost always a bit of humor present to alleviate the tragedy. Deaths occur in my award-winning “A Village Dog,” which captured the Georgia State University Fiction Prize, and, by inference in my poem, “Iowa,” nominated for a Pushcart Prize. And in my short story, “Littlejack,” winner of the 3rd prize in the national competition of the Hackney Literary Awards.  A character in “The Blue Dress,” another short story, which won 3rd prize in the Fugue Fiction Contest, similarly does not escape. And so on, through my linked stories in God’s Tears, New Mexico.  (See the above cited poem and stories at Writings on this site.)

I have variously been incarnated as a journalist, editor and English instructor, the latter at San Francisco State University, where I earned my MA and MFA in Creative Writing: Novel. (My undergrad was earned at Santa Clara University: American Studies). Currently, I’m an editor for Narrative Magazine and also an officer in PEN Oakland, a chapter of PEN Center USA.

I live in Berkeley, California, with my husband, the novelist Floyd Salas, and six semi-feral cats

If you dispute any of the above, or would just like to contact me, please do so here.

~Claire Ortalda