Michael Backus

AMA Rank 25

Have taught 90 plus creative writing courses in the past 15 years.


Have taught 90 plus creative writing courses in the past 15 years.

How I ended up as a writer still seems mysterious to me, though looking back, I can see the signs from an early age. I always loved essay questions and was the sort of student who covered every inch of available blank paper with my answers. It all came together quickly when I was an undergrad at Purdue University studying Wildlife Biology. One day I showed a tiny bit of interest in working for the student paper, the next it seemed I was writing a news story a day and switching my major to journalism. My time on the student newspaper at Purdue remains the “purest” journalism I’ve practiced; I covered murder trials, local and national elections, political conventions, prison riots. But when I got out of school and got my first reporter job on a small daily, I found myself annoyed at how little time I had to write fiction and disappointed in the types of stories I was assigned. After a year, I moved to New York City, the idea being to try and devote all my spare time to fiction writing.

Of course, it didn’t exactly work out, I was a kid from the Midwest let loose in the East Village of 1980s New York City and there was way too much interesting stuff going on to spend all my time alone in front of a typewriter (yes, typewriter --  this was awhile ago). But when I moved to Chicago to attend grad school, I discovered I’d finally developed the focus I needed to really work at writing every day.

A couple of years ago, I made a huge and scary jump from NYC where I'd lived for 22 of the past 30 years (in two different stints) to Albuquerque, NM, partly because I lost my apartment and NYC has become outrageously expensive and needed to move somewhere cheaper.  But I also think NY has changed since the 80s when I first moved there. It once felt like the last sane place in the country, now it feels more like the gleaming mothership of a corporate global world. So much outside money is pouring into the city, it's becoming borderline unlivable for anyone without serious cash.  Sure, there are pockets still where people have good deals, but they're becoming few and far between.

Here's my 3rd person writer’s bio:

Michael Backus’ writing, fiction and non-fiction, has appeared in Cleaver,  Okey Panky, One Story, Exquisite Corpse, Digging Through the Fat, Oyster River Pages, Prime Number magazine, Hanging Loose, The Writer, The High Hat, The Portland Review, and The Sycamore Review, among others. His short story “Coney on the Moon” was published in early September 2017 in an illustrated Redbird chapbook and Xynobooks published his novel Double in ebook-only form in 2012.  His novel The Vanishing Point will be published in regular book form in 2018 by Cactus Moon Publications.  He teaches beginning and advanced fiction writing for Gotham Writer’s Workshop and Zoetrope Magazine and lives in New Mexico.

Author's Web page



Writercreative writing instructorstory doctor
  • 35 years writing fiction

  • 15 years as a creative writing instructor in college and with Gotham Writer's Workshop

  • MFA

  • Columbia College

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