Professor Elizabeth Geoghegan's New E-Book a Best Seller on Amazon

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When JCU creative writing professor Elizabeth Geoghegan submitted the memoir The Marco Chronicles: To Rome, without love to the publisher Shebooks, she never imagined that it would immediately become a best seller.

Only a week after publication, the e-book ranks 1 in the Kindle Store’s “hot new releases” for essays and is among Amazon’s current best sellers.

The recently established e-book publisher Shebooks was inspired by the fact that while two thirds of people who buy books are women, the majority of writers on electronic media sites are men. Shebooks thus decided to publish “the stories women want to read and write.” To do this, the publisher contacted both well known and yet to be discovered authors and asked them to submit works that could be read in under two hours, a format designed to fit the busy lives of women.

Prof. Geoghegan (right, photo by Rick Guidotti) was happy to oblige and submitted The Marco Chronicles, which according to Shebooks is the “anti-Eat, Pray, Love, a tale every bit as atmospheric but way funnier than the runaway best-seller.”

“Paula Derrow, an editor at Shebooks, asked me to submit something authentic, ‘something that sounds like me at lunch,’ says Prof. Geoghegan. “So I sent them this short essay, which I wrote several years ago. I am basically making fun of myself as I recall my adventures and misadventures in Rome. Humor is always a tough thing to pull off though, because one person’s humor is another person’s ‘politically incorrect.’”

She tells her creative nonfiction students to make the landscape a character and she certainly practices what she preaches. “In my essay, I fall in love with Rome and put up with the city’s flaws, like we often do when we fall in love. In the end, however, Rome has ironically become my muse.”

Prof. Geoghegan holds an MFA in fiction writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MA in creative writing from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She teaches Creative Nonfiction, Fiction, Travel Writing, and Writing the Eternal City. This semester she is teaching The Works of A Single Modern Writer: Hemingway, which will highlight next year’s Italy Reads selection, A Farewell to Arms.

Geoghegan’s classes are very popular with degree seeking and study abroad students alike. “Since the creative writing workshops are very intimate, the students and I get to know each other really well and, hopefully, this means I have the opportunity to make a real impact on them. We often keep in touch long after the course has ended and I continue to mentor them.”

When asked how one goes about teaching creative writing, Geoghegan says, “Obviously I can’t give my students talent, but I can give them the tools to access their talent. Often all they need to do is to give themselves permission to write. So I encourage them to take risks and the results are often surprising. I recently had a very successful student who is a business major. At the start, she really struggled to bring things to life on the page, but she made incredible progress and I am confident that she will use her writing talent in her future career.”

Prof. Geoghegan is currently completing a story collection, The Book of Boys, and at work on a novel called The Year of the Cock, a black comedy set in Southeast Asia.

Learn more about the Institute for Creative Writing and Literary Translation in Rome.