Melissa Falcon Field is the author of the debut novel What Burns Away (Sourcebooks, 2015). Her work includes long form fiction, personal narrative essays, nature writing, and documentary journalism.
As an educator and curriculum developer, Melissa has instructed writing workshops at several universities and urban high schools, across the country, including The Madison Writers’ Studio http://madisonwriters.com/ in Wisconsin, where she now lives.
In What Burns Away, Melissa studies the pull between forces—motherhood and self-possession, marriage and independence, nature and science, adversity and affluence, roots and displacement, the virtual world and intimacy, investigating characters torn between those influences just as their past intersects with their future.
Praise for What Burns Away:
“What Burns Away manages to be many things at once: an elegy for a lost girlhood, a study of geographical and cosmic displacement, a portrait of a waning marriage, and a portrayal of a heroine whom readers will find both surprising and relatable. In extraordinary sleight of hand, Melissa Falcon Field blazes through this debut novel with a big-hearted sensuality and a bull’s-eye precision on a par with our best working writers today. A must-read debut.”
—Jan Elizabeth Watson, author of What Has Become of You
“Swiftly paced and utterly engrossing, What Burns Away is the searing portrait of a devoted mother undone by isolation, grief and her own darkest impulses. Melissa Falcon Field writes with such honesty and empathy, it was impossible not to see myself reflected on the page. A brave, textured, emotionally complex book that haunts me still.”
—Jillian Medoff, bestselling author of I Couldn’t Love You More and Hunger Point
“What Burns Away is captivating. I picked it up expecting to read a chapter and didn’t put it down until the final sentence. It moves fast, doesn’t let you catch your breath, and leaves you shaken. Melissa Falcon Field has a knack for bringing her settings to life: in her hands, landlocked Wisconsin and the Connecticut shoreline are themselves indelible characters, full of secrets and longings, at once familiar and utterly strange.”
—Sarah Braunstein, author of The Sweet Relief of Missing Children
“What Burns Away is a study of safety, loyalty, and heart. But it’s also the story of what happens when those things run up against boredom, when they gaze in the smoky glass of lost mirrors and see soulful shadows of passion, freedom, and risk. A new mom’s fiery first love is back, and he challenges all she’s built for herself, reveals the fragility of suburban dreams. In scorching prose, Melissa Falcon Field reminds us that when trouble flies out to the far reaches of the solar system, we’d best not forget it’s coming back.”
—Bill Roorbach, author of The Remedy for Love and Life Among Giants
“Melissa Falcon Field’s thrilling, perceptive debut novel is about the deep dive that is falling in love with a baby, a husband, an old flame—and also a fearless look at the ways we risk, and even seek, its destruction. I sat down with What Burns Away and didn’t stand up till it was over.”
—Michelle Wildgen, author of Bread and Butter