“Tender and unsparing, They More Than Burned feels a little like finding love at the end of the world.” Lannie Stabile, Something Dead in Everything

“They More Than Burned is an incendiary archive: a collection of jagged memories that tumble and catch one another in the light, an unwinding a spool of film on fire. Whitehead narrates the fire of a burning world—Southern California wildfires, the burning of the Twin Towers, a house set ablaze and filmed—but the real fire in question throughout this book is the passion of this woman who, at sixteen, began to film a generation as it emerged in the shadow of these fires, a product of the gritty  Southern California reality where parents are in prison, boys go from being anarchists to soldiers overnight, and going back to the beginning is painful because that’s when everyone was still alive. To bring their lost faces to light, she persists refusing to be dimmed by exploitative Hollywood bosses, sleazy post-me-too producers, addiction and its terrible consequences. 

Southern California’s Gogol, Whitehead records the diary of not a madwoman, but a woman made mad. Watch as Whitehead burns it down, and rejoice at the power of her will and the power of her words.” – Katie Farris, author of Standing in the Forest of Being

“Darkness, shame, grief, lust, and anger never had it so good.” Barrett Warner, author of Why Is It So Hard to Kill You?


“The stories in The Year of the Monster are tender, truthful, fiery and finely wrought. Tara Stillions Whitehead has built a collection that leaves little doubt as to her range and mastery as a storyteller. This book could be studied at the level of language alone as her sentences are both elegant and exacting. The people who inhabit these stories have been through some things and there are no easy answers, but let this book serve as a short course in self-acceptance, grit, honesty, and survival. I’m in awe of Whitehead’s intelligence and heart, fully on display in these pages. I know she has many more books ahead of her. I can’t wait to read every one of them.” – Kathy Fish, author of Wild Life: Collected Works

“If you mix a cocktail of Octavia Butler, Mary Robison, and early Jayne Anne Phillips, you might get something approaching Tara Stillions Whitehead’s style. Yet her style is highly original and all her own:  shape-shifting and subtle.  Her language packs real power. The stories in The Year of the Monster deal with love and unlove, math and physics, deception, truth, and loss – – both personal and cultural.  As they navigate life’s obstacles – both spiritual and societal — her characters show resilience and stamina even when darkness looms. ‘God and Laundry’ is one of the best short stories I’ve read in years. But read them all, every story – from cover to cover. The entire collection sparkles.” – Larry Fondation, Martyrs and Holymen

Events, & Readings

3.7.23 – @7pm – Q&A with Lucy Snyder at Midtown Scholar in Harrisburg, PA

3.9.23 – 10:35am – “Writing the Screen-Worthy Story,” panelist, AWP Conference and Book Fair
Seattle, WA

3.10.23 – @12pm Author signing – Unsolicited Press table, AWP Conference and Book Fair – Seattle, WA

3.11.23 – @12-1pm Author signing – Bending Genres table, AWP Conference and Book Fair – Seattle, WA

3.11.23 – @1:30pm – “Writing at 24 Frames Per Second,” moderator, AWP Conference and Book Fair – Seattle, WA

3.23 – @7pm – Virtual Book Launch for They More Than Burned; ELJ Editions (RSVP HERE)

3.27.23SUNY Adirondack – In person – 12:45pm – Author reading and Q&A – in person
Queensbury, NY

3.30.23 – @7pm Shippensburg University – Visiting Writer Reading and Q&A – in person
Shippensburg, PA

4.14.23 – American University – Author reading and Q&A

4.27.23 – @7pm – San Diego Literary Festival – Featured Writer – Grossmont College
San Diego, CA

6.10.23 – @1pm – The Writer’s Center – Reading and Q & A – in person
Bethesda, MD

7.7.23 – @7pm – Author reading and signing (w/Monica Prince) at Midtown Scholar
Harrisburg, PA

“Innocence lost⁠—more likely stolen⁠—as glitter vacuumed from a child’s open chest: Blood Histories functions, in part, as an experiment in confession, interrogating how we are educated and educate others into and out of existence. The speaker tells of the burdened blood of women, flowing with trauma and diseased with memory, how we are ‘genetically predisposed to self-destruct.’ There are lines in this collection that no one has written before—that, perhaps, no one has ever even thought but has only felt.” – Brenna Womer, author of honeypot and Atypical Cells of Undetermined Significance

Listed as a notable essay in the Best American Essays 2022 anthology edited by Alexander Chee, “The Mother Must Die and Other Lies Fairy Tales Told Me,” a hybrid essay about Anne Sexton, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Cinderella, and motherhood/addiction, published in the Gold Issue of Fairy Tale Review was also nominated for a 2022 Pushcart Prize!

Sincere thanks to the editors at Porcupine Literary Journal for nominating “A Lesson on Endings” for both a 2022 Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net!

12.3.2021 – New interview about Blood Histories, fairy tales, creative nonfiction, and recovery, up at Fractured Lit: “Omission Serves a Purpose: An Interview with Tara Stillions Whitehead.”

Huge thanks to X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine for nominating
“Undertow” for a 2021 Best of the Net!

Wiggie! Wiggie! Wiggie!

“Seven Bodies I Didn’t Leave Behind,” originally published in HAD (Hobart), selected for Wigleaf Top 50 2021 by Molly Gaudry!

Huge thanks to the series and selecting editors at Wigleaf!

from X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine June 2021 newsletter

Selected Writings