Biography

Sheryl Monks reads with Julia Franks at the Virginia Festival of the Book in 2017.

Sheryl Monks is an American author and literary editor. In 2016, she published a collection of stories, Monsters in Appalachia, which was well received by independent bookstores, libraries, readers, and reviewers. Monks often writes of socially and economically maligned characters held captive by their circumstances. She has said in interviews that it was listening to oral storytelling as a child that inspired her to become a writer. As an undergraduate at Salem College, the nation’s oldest women’s educational institution, Monks studied with the poet Annette Allen, whom she credits for giving her permission to call herself a writer. While there, she also met acclaimed biographer Penelope Niven, who would go on to become Monks’ close friend and beloved writing mentor until Niven’s death in 2014. After graduating from Salem, Monks became part of the first graduating class of the Queens University of Charlotte MFA program. There, she studied with the writers Pinckney Benedict, Ron Rash, David Payne, Fred Leebron, Elissa Schappell, Jenny Offill, Ashley Warlick, and Elizabeth Strout. Her first short story, “Little Miss Bobcat,” won the Reynolds Price Short Fiction Award in 2003, judged by Algonquin Books editor and co-founder Shannon Ravenel. During graduate school, Monks completed an internship with John F. Blair, a regional publisher in North Carolina, for whom she wrote a collection of folktales and co-authored a comprehensive travel guide. Two years later, she helped to establish Press 53, an independent literary publishing company in Winston-Salem, NC, where she helped to reissue several of novelist John Ehle‘s books, including The Land Breakers, for which she secured an endorsement from Ehle’s contemporary Harper Lee. In 2014, Monks started the online literary magazine Change Seven with Canadian short story writer Antonios Maltezos. The same year, she returned to Salem College to serve as the Writer-in-Residence until 2015. Today, she writes from her home in North Carolina where she is currently laboring over an historical novel, finishing a second collection of stories, and writing a book on craft.