About the Author
Joanna Torrey is the author of a novel, HE GOES, SHE GOES, published by Crown in 2001 and HUNGRY, a collection of short stories and a novella, published by Crown in 1998. Her stories have been included in several anthologies, including collections by The Crossing Press and Serpent's Tail. Her articles and essays have appeared in Health, Natural Health, Harper's Bazaar, Mademoiselle, Omni, The New York Sunday Daily News Magazine, among other publications. She has been a guest at the Yaddo artists' colony, and recipient of the New York State Foundation for the Arts grant. She received an M.F.A. from Brooklyn College, and continues to teach creative writing.
When she was 15, Joanna Torrey landed her very first job as a chambermaid at a one-night-stand motel called Dreamwood Motor Lodge in Bar Harbor, Maine. There she learned how to fold towels to hide the worn patches, and peel condoms from the sides of wastebaskets. This job also brought to the surface an understanding of healthy competition when her older sister who was working at a motel up the road began coming home with tips from wholesome families for whom condoms and liquor were not daily facts of motel life.
Following this auspicious entry into the work force, Joanna went on to pursue what various employment agencies would refer to over the years as a "checkered" or "patchwork" job history. This history included stints as shoe salesperson, men's underwear salesperson, cocktail waitress, receptionist, restaurant cook, solo caterer, U.N. production typist, legal secretary, magazine editor, massmarket publishing copy director, freelance journalist and writing teacher - not necessarily in that order.
A long-time resident of New York, Joanna grew up in California and then Massachusetts with a displaced British mother and a Harvard professor botanist father who had only one job his entire life: teaching and research. By contrast, her total jobs numbered somewhere in the neighborhood of 50. Needless to say, her father didn't understand, although all of her four sisters did. Many of her jobs, particularly the earlier ones, were service positions, which required dealing with the most basic human needs: hunger, thirst, shelter, clothing. Strangers' hungers proved to be both a misery and an education, offering a wealth of what would later come to be known as "material."
The constant in her checkered work history was always writing. This she began back in high school when one of her English teachers, who happened to be Amelia Earhardt's sister, was so worried about her lack of class participation coupled with the darkness of her stories that she spoke to her parents about her "impaired social development."
Having finally escaped her secret life as a writer working in lousy jobs - though not finished plundering her checkered past for the sake of her craft - Joanna Torrey is currently at work on her second novel, writing freelance articles, and coaching private students.