Background

Most of my published writing to date is scholarly in nature, produced in the context of my academic career (see below). To transition beyond that, I took intensive writing workshops at The Madison Writers’ Studio: Novel Writing with Michelle Wildgen (novelist and former executive editor at Tin House) and Memoir Writing with Christopher Chambers (founding editor of Midwest Review).

I started my working life as a freelancer in independent film and theater in Ann Arbor, Michigan, back in the eighties when there was a growing movement of horror filmmakers in the Upper Midwest. Among other things, I freelanced with a company that did some of the special effects for Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 2 (I was one of the walking trees). My true calling was editing, though, and I cut my teeth on a campy little space movie that eventually made it into the Ann Arbor Film Festival. I parlayed that experience into full-time gigs as a commercial film editor in Detroit and Chicago. After a twenty-five-year sojourn through academia, I came back around to freelancing in the end, as well as editing, although of a different sort: I currently earn my keep as a writing consultant and editor.

I have a BA in Journalism/Communication and an MA and PhD in Anthropology. As an anthropologist, I did my fieldwork in various parts of Russia, mostly in the far northeast. I spent about twenty years outside the continental US, between the time in Russia and my jobs in Germany, Alaska, and Ireland. My final university position was as director of a campus garden program; taking that job reflected my abiding interest in sustainable food growing, both the practice of it and the philosophies that inform it.

More on Patty A. Gray’s academic background