Wanda has been writing and reading for as long as she can remember. The daughter of a Baptist minister, her first editing job was when she was sixteen and typed up her father's manuscript, Signs of Omega, about the coming apocalpyse, an idea he later abandoned. Thanks to him, she grew up with the bookmobile, trips to the public library, and the cadences of the King James Bible. Because of her father, she also grew up singing and playing the guitar.
Wanda's stories and poems been published in various magazines and journals. She has two novels--Ash Grove and In the Absence of Angels--and a book of poetry, Cassandra Among the Greeks. She is currently in the research phase of a novel told from the point of view of the 18th-century graphic poet William Blake's wife, Catherine, whom Blake taught to read and who became his partner in creating his work.
A life-long Kentuckian, she lives in Somerset with her husband Denny, a geologist. Both teach at Somerset Community College and have two grown children, Jesse and Megan.
She writes songs for fun and occasionally performs. She says about her work that she likes to think "it is transfused with a sense of spirtuality and wonder (in the South, as writer Flannery O'Connor knew, we are 'Christ-haunted')," and points out that "the only gospel I'm qualified to teach is the gospel of reading. After all, what is there at the root and at the beginning, but the Word?"
Lee Smith has said of Wanda's fiction that it is both "gritty and poetic, real and transcendent."
Wanda has also won several awards and honors for her work, including the following:
Kentucky Arts Council, Al Smith Fellowship 1989 & 2001
James Baker Hall Award for Poetry 2009
Bread Loaf Scholar 1986
Cornelia Dozier Cooper Award 2010
"Black Dog" and "Annunciation" nominated for the Pushcart prize 2010
Her stories and poems have been published in Sojourners, Michigan Quarterly Review, drafthorse, Still, Appalachian Heritage, River City Review, Special Report: Fiction, The Writer's Craft, and other journals and magazines. Links to the online journals are on the right.
Photo at top right: Don Whitehead, counselor at Bethany House spouse abuse shelter, and Wanda Fries.
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