Valerie studied writing at the New School, received a B.S. in literature, summa cum laude, from the State University of New York in 1987 and once had a job answering Doctor Seuss’ mail. Her first novel, St. Ursula's Girls Against the Atomic Bomb, was published in hardcover by MacAdam/Cage and in paperback by Penguin. Her stories and essays have appeared in The Sun, New Letters, the Indiana Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Missouri Review, Rosebud , The Iowa Review and other magazines. She was a DeWitt Wallace/Readers Digest fellow at the MacDowell Colony in 2002. Her essays have been awarded “Most Notable” status five times in Best American Essays and her story “Jasmine Washing the Hair of Pearsa” won first prize both in the Indiana Review Fiction Contest and the Robert Olen Butler Fiction Contest. For seven and a half years, she drove an ambulance along the back-country roads of Vermont where she lives with her wonderful husband, John Kern, a playwright. They have two amazing daughters, Mara and Erin, a dream of a daughter-in-law, Terra Page, and two wise and funny toddler grandsons, Jasper and Grady.
As a child, I hid in closets and sat in the tops of maple trees, studying the suburb I lived in—the former potato farms covered with houses that Long Island became in the nineteen fifties. Some people think the world has grown crazy, but I feel it is saner and kinder and more inclusive than the world I grew up in when the Cold War was on and black people were being lynched in this country. Millions of them could not vote. I feel good knowing that cultural evolution is much speedier than genetic evolution.
I now live in the country and love the green fields surrounding my house, the banks of wild roses, the trails of Queen Anne’s lace and blue chicory, the orange sky over the soft gray Adirondacks. Inspired by my daughter Erin, I have become a vegan and celebrate the progress, however slow, the country is making in treating animals as sentient beings. There's a bumper sticker on my car that says I'LL BELIEVE CORPORATIONS ARE PEOPLE WHEN TEXAS EXECUTES ONE. And one on my husband's car that says MAKE ORWELL FICTION AGAIN.
When I'm not reading books to my adorable grandsons, I write in cafes, drinking three pots of tea and watching as the words pile up (or don’t) on pads of bright yellow paper. I need a window. With the sunlight slanting in. People talking, birds singing.
I feel so lucky to be a part of this amazing world and am extravagantly grateful for the people who love me and the people who read my books.