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Tod M. Kelly Photographs

Born Charlotte Denise Watson, in 1958 in Seattle (Washington), the eldest

of three children in a working class family. Displayed an early

interest in literature. Dreamed of being a writer since third grade when

Pippi Longstocking hijacked my imagination.

My mother believed it was dangerous for a daughter to always have her head

in a book -- which led to reading by flashlight beneath bedcovers, a

geeky, camouflaged appetite for studying the dictionary and keeping poems

secret until publishing my first at nineteen.

I studied Social Sciences at Seattle University and began law school

shortly after the birth of my first daughter. Once I realized I could

actually become a lawyer, I left the University of Puget Sound and never

looked back.

I worked as a pretrial screener, outreach coordinator, sexual abuse

counselor, emergency housing counselor, child welfare worker, mental

health screener, volunteer coordinator for a literacy program, research

interviewer, and finally, when my youngest daughter left for college, a

professional librarian.

Through an extraordinary blast of effort and good fortune, a collection of

short fiction, Killing Color, was published by Calyx Books (1992); then

shortly after, a novel, One Dark Body, by HarperCollins (1993); then an

anthology, Sisterfire: Black Womanist Fiction and Poetry (1994); another

novel, touch, (1995), and finally, a children's book, Eli and the Swamp

Man (1996).

I received the following awards, fellowships, grants:

Seattle Arts Commission Individual Artist Grant, 1989; King County Arts

Commission Fiction Publication Award, 1989; Artist Trust GAP Grant, 1989;

Seattle Artists 1991 Research and Development Grant; Great Lakes Colleges

Association Fiction Award, 1992; Black Women’s Gathering Women of

Achievement Award, 1992; Washington State Arts Commission Fiction

Fellowship, 1993; Brandeis University Women’s Committee Distinguished

Author’s Award, 1993; Governor’s Writers Award, 1993; Seattle University

Award for Professional Achievement, 1994; Granta literary magazine’s Best

of Young American Novelists, shortlist, 1995; Barbara Deming Memorial

Fund; Regional Arts and Culture Council Professional Development Grant, 2010;

4Culture Fiction Fellowship, 2012; Artist Trust Centrum Fellowship, 2012.

My fiction and nonfiction have been published in Essence, Ms., Parenting,

American Visions, The Seattle Times, and Goodness Portland; as well as

anthologies such as When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple, The

Bluelight Corner, Spooks, Spies, and Private Eyes, Edgewalking on the

Western Rim, and In Search of Color Everywhere.

New York Foundation for the Arts is the fiscal sponsor for a

multidisciplinary project, "Requiem for 10,000 Souls."

My muse is history. The task of healing and reconciling the past, propels

the writing. My tools: word, image, ritual, dream, magic.