Sophfronia Scott grew up in Lorain, Ohio, a hometown she shares with author Toni Morrison. Her father was a Mississippi-born steelworker who never learned how to read and her mother was a stay-at-home mom who always made sure there were books in the house. She holds a BA in English from Harvard and an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Sophfronia spent a big chunk of her career as a writer and editor for Time and People magazines where she developed the uncanny ability to create order out of chaos by whittling massive amounts of facts and ideas into a single cohesive form.
When Sophfronia’s first novel, All I Need to Get By, was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2004 Sophfronia was nominated for best new author at the African American Literary Awards and hailed by Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. as “potentially one of the best writers of her generation.” Her essays, short stories, and articles have appeared in Killens Review of Arts & Letters, Saranac Review, Numéro Cinq, Ruminate, Barnstorm Literary Journal, Sleet Magazine, NewYorkTimes.com, More, and O, The Oprah Magazine. Her forthcoming novel, The Light Lives Here, will be published by William Morrow/HarperCollins in 2017.
Sophfronia lives in Sandy Hook, Connecticut with her husband and son and where she continues to fight a losing battle against the weeds in her flowerbeds. She enjoys teaching at Regis University’s Mile-High MFA in Denver, Colorado and the Fairfield County Writer’s Studio in Westport, Connecticut. She blogs at Sophfronia.com
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What’s on your nightstand right now?
Alexander Chee’s new novel, The Queen of the Night and A Search for Solitude by Thomas Merton. I’m slowly making my way through Merton’s journals and this is the 3rd of seven volumes.
Are you more likely to buy a print book or ebook?
Almost always print, but I keep spiritual material such as the Bible and the Episcopal Church’s Daily Office on my Kindle because I like to have it accessible to me when I travel.
Tell us about your favorite bookstore.
It’s the used book sale our local library, the C.H. Booth Library, has every summer. It takes up the whole floor of the intermediate school and as much as I try to resist getting carried away I usually come home with an armload of books. If I allowed myself to take a bag it would be much worse!
What book made the biggest impression on you as a kid?
Jane Eyre because she taught me how to think. She was always cognizant of her situation, always considering what she wanted her life to be and how to move toward what she wanted. I found that so empowering.
Tell us about your writing routine. Do you have a favorite time or place to write?
I write in the mornings. Two or three times a week I’m joined via Google Hangout by my friend and writing partner David Hicks who lives in Colorado. We each discuss what we’re working on and then start writing. It’s kind of like sharing an office. We keep each other company while we write.
Who’s your muse? Who or what inspires you?
I have a dear friend who is also a writer and though I don’t get to connect with him for months at a time our ongoing conversation is the wind feeding my fire. He challenges me. There are questions he asked me years ago I find I’m still answering in my writing. He’s also my interior reader. I can hear him reading my words as I write. It’s hard to explain because I’m not someone who necessarily believes in muses and yet so often I sit down excited to write because I can’t wait to tell him what I’m about to say. In fact I’ve stopped trying to figure out why this is—now I just run with it.