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Mary Jean Murphy - Writer
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Interview in Epiphany: A Literary Journal

Thank you to the kind editors at Epiphany: A Literary Journal for hosting this short-answer interview session with me.

Epiphany: William Trevor began his adult life as a sculptor and later described his writing as chipping away at a block of marble. Are you a chipper or a builder?  In other words, do you chip away at a block of writing, or are you more methodical, building up the block brick by brick?

Mary Jean Murphy: I’m definitely methodical and imagine the metaphor as building paper mâché. I have these delicate sentences that layer atop each other until there’s something solid. I’ll write a paragraph, decide it doesn’t have that solid feel, then delete it and try again. When it’s working well, it’s a great feeling—when it’s not, it can be pretty frustrating and probably limiting. If I could choose, I’d be a chipper, but maybe that’s a case of “grass is greener.”

What was your first publication? 

When I was in the 10th grade, I had a poem published in Scholastic’s Best Teen Writing of 2006. It was an anthology of selected winners from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and it was the first “real” contest that my writing won.

CONTINUE READING the full interview on Epiphany’s website.

(Image credit: Lydia Conklin)


Thank You Epiphany Magazine

Last night I read from my winning nonfiction piece in the Spring 2016 issue of Epiphany Magazine! Their launch party was at Strand Books, and it was an amazing experience. Not only did the editorial staff at Epiphany throw a supremely well organized launch party, I also can’t say enough great things in general about working with Moss, their Managing Editor. Having been Managing Editor at the Columbia Journal, I know what a tough job it is. Moss gave great edits, always responded quickly to emails, and was great at keeping me in the loop about what was going on. Oh, and he was patient with the speed at which I sent things back 😉

Getting to meet Kathryn Harrison, the nonfiction judge for the contest, was a surreal experience. Two years ago, when reading The Kiss, if you’d told me she would be selecting my work… Well, I would’ve been pretty stoked.

So thank you to everyone who was involved in this process. It was really an honor. If you’d like to purchase a copy, you can save 20% with the friends and family discount. And be sure to like Epiphany Magazine on facebook!

Epiphany: A Literary Journal Spring Reading and Discussion

May 23 Reading at Strand Books

Epiphany Magazine Spring Reading

Monday, May 23 at 7pm

Strand Books (828 Broadway at 12th St, 3rd Floor Rare Books Room)

Join me at Strand Books in NYC on May 23rd, where I will be reading, along with the other contest winners, for Epiphany’s spring issue launch!

Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Vijay Seshadri, New York Times bestselling author Kathryn Harrison, pioneering literary agent Vicky Bijur – judges of the Epiphany magazine annual writing contest – will discuss what they look for in new writing and how it reflects the literary world today. Contest winners, who are published Epiphany’s spring issue, will read from their selected work.

Food and wine by Fresco Gelateria.

Purchase a copy of the issue or a $10 Strand gift card for entry.

Friends & Family 20% discount on the issue

Buy tickets online or at the door

Save the date on Facebook


Help Me Attend This Portuguese Writing Workshop

Last month I was named a semi-finalist for nonfiction in the Disquiet International Literary Prize, which brings some of the world’s most talented young writers together in Lisbon, Portugal each year to work with local Portuguese and world-famous writers. Being a semi-finalist gave me a $500 scholarship to attend, but once accounting for airfare, accommodations, and program fees, that still left a considerable gap and I immediately told myself going was out of the question.


My friends encouraged me to start a GoFundMe but for almost a month I didn’t because I thought it was too indulgent. And even after I created one, it took me days to muster up the confidence to post it. So with that in mind, I’ll stop yammering and instead humbly ask you to consider donating even just a few dollars to help me attend this writing workshop this summer. You’ll see the link above. Being able to work with author Denis Johnson would be a dream, and if any of you know me well, you’ll know that’s me downplaying my excitement.