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The Writing Life

Novelist Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s 2019 novel “We Cast a Shadow” became a runaway hit, garnering praise from NPR, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and many more. The novel, a unique story about a father protecting his son no matter what cost, was recently released in paperback, and Ruffin, a native New Orleanian and graduate of the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop program (as well as Loyola University School of Law), is looking forward to continuing to explore his writing in more new and creative ways. 

He will also appear on a panel at this year’s 34th annual Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival, March 25-29, where he will discuss his writing, literature, and both his novel and his upcoming collection of short stories.

Q: Your novel, “We Cast a Shadow,” is about to come out in paperback. How does that feel to you? It’s a dream come true. I’ve loved to tell stories my whole life. It’s a very happy time for me.

Q: What was it like having your book named one of the best books of the year by NPR and the Washington Post? I hoped the book would get some attention and it did. I feel like the luckiest man in New Orleans to have my novel receive such glowing commentary from national publications.

Q: What inspires your writing?  Does the city of New Orleans influence your writing? New Orleans is a town full of vibrant people who love to experience the best of life. I’m inspired by the richness of our culture. We’re all storytellers here.

Q: What is a typical writing day like for you, and where do you write? I love to write in coffee shops early in the morning and let the light of sunrise move around me as I work. My favorite time to edit is just before midnight at home. I walk my hallway and read my words aloud to get them right.

Q: What/who are you reading right now? Right now, I’m reading a novel called “Trust Exercise” by Susan Choi and a graphic novel called “Angola Janga” by Marcelo D’Salete about enslaved people who escaped captivity and formed free communities for themselves in Brazil.

Q: How many years have you attended the Tennessee Williams Festival? I’ve been going for just over 10 years.

Q: Why is it an important festival for you? It’s a great place to see the best and brightest local authors with a fun mix of national figures. I once bumped into John Waters there.

Q: Who are you looking forward to seeing or meeting at this year’s festival? Saaed Jones, Cherice Harrison-Nelson, and John Warner Smith.

Q: What’s next for you? My paperback just came out so I’ll be touring New York and California. Next year, my short story collection comes out.

Born/raised: New Orleans

Education: Loyola Law School. University of New Orleans for B.A. in English and MFA in Creative Writing.

Resides: New Orleans.

Favorite restaurant:  Neyow’s.

Favorite TV or Movie: Imitation of Life (1959).

Pencil or pen: pen.

Paper or e-book: paper.

True confession: Something many people may not know about me I played football in high school. I was an offensive lineman for the McDonogh #35 Roneagles. I was much bigger then.


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