This Goodly Land

Deborah Wiles (1953–present)

Other Names Used

Alabama Connections

Selected Works

Literary Awards

Biographical Information

Deborah Wiles was born in Mobile, Ala., where her father, a US Air Force pilot, was stationed. The family moved frequently as her father was transferred from base to base. They moved to Hawaii when she was five, Camp Springs, Md., when she was eight, Charleston, S.C., when she was fifteen, and the Philippines just before her senior year in high school. Wiles spent summers with relatives in Louin, Miss., however, and thought of Mississippi as her home. After graduating from high school, she returned there to attend Jones County Junior College. She left college after her first semester to get married and start a family. Wiles was inspired to become a writer while reading books to her children. She taught herself to write in the 1970s and began selling her work on a freelance basis in the 1980s. She also worked many other jobs to support her family.

In 2001, Wiles published her first two books: a picture book Freedom Summer and a young adult novel Love, Ruby Lavender. That year, she held the first Thurber House Residency in Children's Literature in Columbus, Ohio. Wiles also entered the writing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. In 2003, she graduated from the program, earning an MFA, and published her second picture book. The following year, Wiles was awarded the PEN/Phyllis Reynolds Naylor Working Writer Fellowship. Later that year, she moved from Frederick, Md., where she had lived since she was twenty-five, to Atlanta, Ga. In 2005, Wiles published a second novel (Each Little Bird That Sings) and wrote and published a serialized novel, Moves the Symphony True, in The Boston Globe. The serialized novel was republished in book form as The Aurora County All-Stars in 2007.

Interests and Themes

Deborah Wiles writes picture books and young adult novels. Her novels are set in small-town Mississippi and concern growing up and learning to deal with loss.

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Reference Book Chapters and Encyclopedia Entries

Reference Web Sites

Location of Papers

Photo courtesy of Deborah Wiles.

Last updated on Oct 10, 2009.

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