Melissa Stephenson

Listen to the interview

Author Melissa Stephenson joins us this week. Melissa’s book is the memoir, Driven: A White-Knuckled Ride to Heartbreak and Back (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, July 24, 2018).

Writing on the Air is broadcast each Wednesday at 6pm Central from the KOOP Radio studios in Austin, Texas. We’re heard on 91.7FM KOOP – Austin,, and Radio Free America. 

Did you know we have over 150 podcast episodes? To listen, just browse the episodes here on our website & download the audios from each page. You’ll also find our podcast on the Podcast ap and iTunes. Recent episodes are available in our Radio Free America archive for 2 weeks after broadcast. 

For show updates, be sure and follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Melissa Stephenson is the author of  Driven: A White-Knuckled Ride to Heartbreak and Back , her new memoir out with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, July 24, 2018.

Melissa Stephenson’s writing has appeared in publications such as The Rumpus, The Washington Post, Barrelhouse, Mutha, Blackbird, and Fourth Genre.

She earned her B.A. in English from The University of Montana and her M.F.A. in Fiction from Texas State University. She lives in Missoula, Montana with her two kids. Driven is her first book.

In Praise of , Driven: A White-Knuckled Ride to Heartbreak and Back (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, July 24, 2018)

“Lyrical and eloquent, Stephenson’s book is a journey of pain, beauty, and healing that also celebrates the life of her tragically misunderstood brother. Raw, tender, and uniquely envisioned.” — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

 “In a passionate memoir, Stephenson finds comfort and freedom in the cars that grounded the turbulence and restlessness of her life.” — Shelf Talker

“A rewarding twist on an American Story . . . filled with love, grief, grit, and healing.” — Publishers Weekly

“Melissa Stephenson’s Driven does the hard and wonderful work of exhuming the beauty from which disconnection and heartbreak are woven. Perhaps no life, she reminds us, is ever yet fully lived; and there’s a beauty in that, too.” — Rick Bass

“Not all writers are survivors and not all survivors are writers, but Melissa Stephenson is both and goddamn is she good. Driven is a book you will want to hold tight against your heart, to take with wherever you go. Piercing and beautiful.” — Domenica Ruta

“Driven is written with a poet’s ear and a traveler’s grit, and it will be a comfort to anyone who has watched a loved one self-destruct, or struggled with the complicated identity of little sister. Melissa Stephenson shines a light on her brother’s dark path and ends up finding a road of her own.” — Sarah Hepola

“Melissa Stephenson’s Driven is worth reading for a quality more difficult to portray in dust jacket copy: being in the hands of a real writer and watching the mastery of craft on the page as she condenses and expands the moments of ordinary life into story, casting for insight and meaning.” — Mary Helen Specht for The Texas Observer

About Driven: A White-Knuckled Ride to Heartbreak and Back

A searing memoir about one woman’s road to hope following the death of her troubled brother, told through the series of cars that accompanied her.

Growing up in a blue-collar family in the Midwest, Melissa Stephenson longed for escape. Her wanderlust was an innate reaction to the powerful personalities around her, and came too from her desire to find a place in the world where her artistic ambitions wouldn’t be thwarted. She found in automobiles the promise of a future beyond Indiana state lines.

From a lineage of secondhand family cars of the late ’60s, to the Honda that carried her from Montana to Texas as her new marriage disintegrated, to the ’70s Ford she drove away from her brother’s house after he took his life (leaving Melissa the truck, a dog, and a few mixed tapes), to the Volkswagen van she now uses to take her kids camping, she knows these cars better than she knows some of the people closest to her. Driven away from grief, and toward hope, Melissa reckons with what it means to lose a beloved sibling.

Driven is a powerful story of healing, for all who have had to look back at pain to see how they can now move forward. —Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 

For more information, please see the author’s website. You can also  follow her on Twitter.